"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tennessee, the Oligarchs' Poster State for Corporate Education Reform

Mr. Superlative, Arne Duncan, announced last week that Tennessee will likely be the first state granted a royal waiver from the child and school crushing NCLB testing targets that guarantee an 80-90 percent failure rate in most school communities across America by 2014.   I was in Tennessee at the time recovering from foot surgery when a friend there called with the news.  Having just that day been working on a book project that extends a case study of Tennessee’s valueless value-added testing scheme devised by the Dr. Strangelove/Wizard of Oz of testing, Bill Sanders, the irony was just too sweet.

Tennessee could not be better positioned to become the poster state for embracing Duncan’s federalized extortion racket aimed to bend every community to the corporatized visions of Bill Gates and Eli Broad. Bend or break, take your pick.  After all, Tennessee has its own homegrown oligarch as governor, the soft spoken Bill “Pilot Oil” Haslam, who has allowed Gates and Broad to put in charge of Tennessee schools a major cult leader from Teach for America, Kevin Huffman (former spouse of Eduwitch Michelle Rhee).  Even though one in four Tennesseeans remain illiterate, the state is and has been a fav of the corporatistas judging Race to the Top and other tax-supported ventures of the U. S. Chamber of Horrors’ Business Roundtable.  

Having just received last year the biggest chunk yet ($500 million) from the RTTT bribery scam, Tennessee is already in eager pursuit of fulfilling all the criteria required to earn a waiver from Adequate Yearly Progress demands: 1) uncapped status on charter expansion, 2) uncapped expansion of centralized pre-K to Retirement testing systems, 3) bonus pay and teacher evaluation based on test scores, and 4) embracing the worthless turnaround strategies devised by the Gates and Broad technocrats who remain clueless about schools or learning.

We shall see how many states rush to get in line to now do for no money what large RTTT bribes could not make them do before.  We shall see how many parents and teachers and students just say no to the testing madness this coming year.  The movement is born and moral action now requires the sacrifice that comes with civil disobedience and non-violent resistance.  The game is over, the talking is done.  It is time to act and demand that educators be put in charge of educating our children for the most trying time in the history of our civilization.  The fools and thieves of Wall Street have ruined the world’s economic systems—we shall not allow them to ruin our children any further.

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