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

Monday, March 04, 2013

Why Can't Corporate "Reformers" Get Their Spin Straight?

My first question was why Rick Hess took a sabbatical from his blog, Rick Hess Straight Up, and turned it over to someone who would promote the opposite of the “Billionaires Boys Club’s” vision of “reform.”  Guest blogger Becca Bracy Knight wrote that system leaders should take a “team of rivals” approach.  They should start with a listening tour and solicit ideas from the entire community.  Knight promoted a decentralized approach where administrators support teachers, as opposed to dictating to them.  She explained the great successes that were achieved in Washoe County, Nevada; Fulton County, Georgia; Aurora County, Colorado; and the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools in North Carolina.

But, I must have misread the part about the last district.  Was there another Peter Gorman, other than the one who was driven out of that district after creating new tests to drive his unpopular merit pay experiment, and who then went to work for Rupurt Murdoch?

My confusion grew after seeing that Ms. Knight is the Executive Director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.  Surely an organization that employed someone with her beliefs could not be associated with the Broad Superintendents Academy, which is known for its “groupthink.” Her Broad Center could not be compatible with the Broad Academy that seeks to “colonize” districts.  After all, Diane Ravitch explained about that organization. “Once there’s a Broad superintendent, he surrounds himself with Broad fellows, and they have a preference towards privatization.”

When learning that yes, Knight is a part of the organization that is known for its top-down, anti-union, anti-teacher ideology, I thought the same thing as Ravitch, “it makes me wonder what they’re teaching them.”

Were abusive Broad graduates such as John Deasy, Jean Claude Brizard, Mike Miles, and dictatorial state leaders like Deborah Gist and Christopher Cerf asleep during their lessons on listening? I don’t expect that Ms. Knight necessarily explained to Deasy why it is good practice to have students write down classroom rules in the notebook.  But, surely she gave some indication that it is bad practice for a Broadie to pop into a classroom and fire a well-regarded substitute teacher for following instructions and supervising that practice.

Was Brizard asleep when (or if) Knight explained that it is better to work collaboratively with teachers than to provoke a strike?  And, don't get me started on our Broadie's six month reign of error in Oklahoma City.  He and his mentors demanded that all teachers follow their curriculum pacing script out of their mandated textbooks.

Broad’s preferred policies are not just bad.  Their “reform” credibility gap is toxic.  For a generation now, reformers have adopted the bipartisan Lee Atwater/ Dick Morris public relations strategy of saying anything to defeat their opponents.  With the billionaires funding, the best public relations that money can buy, “reformers” have sold their strategy of “convergence,” or coordination of efforts as a touchy feely quest to put children first.  There real goal, short term, is defeating teachers and our professional culture.  As long as they will brazenly say anything, we have to worry that their long term goal for public schooling is even worse.  

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