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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Conservative Revolutionaries and Revolutionary Tories

As someone who spent most of her career on the wrong side of the education history that she wrote about through the rose-colored glasses of a pampered conservative, Diane Ravitch has found real solace, I think, in acknowledging the truth laid bare by the facts that she could no longer deny.  The acknowleged truth, however, will set you free or give you real solace only when it is acted upon.

The American colonists found solace, for sure, in knowing that King George was a bully and a tyrant, but it was only when they began dumping tea into Boston Harbor that their knowledge and truth began to set them free.  Making speeches or encouraging people to make noise was not going end the oppression by the smug and greedy Royalists.  Ravitch, it seems, has not yet reached the point of understanding that.  Maybe she won't.

So far she has been content to bask in the self-congratulatory glow of someone whose new knowing is entirely removed from any doing, and her speeches carry the clear insinuation that King George's men are good people who just don't understand that they're wrong.  That's a Tory's position, not of someone who stands at the forefront of a democratic revolt.

Her blog post this morning offers an example of Ravitch at her most tepid, while providing no rationale for maintaining her false distinction between "good" non-profit charters and "bad" for-profit charters.  Her lead sentence:
Peter Greene explains why an all-charter district or state will never succeed. 
After a brief intro, Ravitch shares a clip from Peter's good post, which references another good post by Mark Weber.  Both are bloggers I respect highly.  And both, along with Ravitch, are right, of course, if "never succeed" means the failure to provide a functional system where all kids have decent school achievement.  

If, however, "succeed" means making billions of dollars for corporate reform schools, then we have to acknowledge that the charter industry has been wildly successful.  Which do you think feels better to the charter industry--our definition of their failure or their definition of what it means to hit the jackpot?

Here are a few other questions that I would post at Ravitch's blog if she didn't have me blocked already:

Are we supposed to take some consolation in the fact that CorpEd charterizers will continue to need a handful of public schools of last resort, where recalcitrants and low scorers are booted to from schools of choice that have de-chosen them?  Does anyone believe that CorpEd is not aware of this small flaw in an, otherwise, perfect plan to collect and cash in on every public school student?  Is there some kind comeuppance for CorpEd that follows from our ability to make the point that they will "never succeed?"  Is there some significance to having public education dismembered and devoured by a non-profit corporate charter monster that leaves a few twitching parts, rather than a for-profit corporate charter Frankenstein that does the same thing?  

My point is this:  Ravitch has known these charter facts for a long time, much longer than she has been riding the fence of anti-deform and longer than she has engaged in public dissembling to protect the enemies of public education that she ostensibly disagrees with.  Knowing, too, the facts have been the corrupt bastards she worked with during her years in Washington as servant to the kinder and gentler fascist, GHW Bush.  So what is she going to do about it all now, besides continue to post her same tired remarks that make suffering teachers feel good until they return to the pressure cooker of their classroom? 

What is she going to do with all that inside knowledge and corrosive information that she has about the inner working of the ed conformers, sleazebags, and corporate welfare kings?  Is she going to write a real book, or is she going to continue to mine all the free research she can find from bloggers who do her work for her, until she has enough to assemble into another lucrative piece of bombast?

The strides being made in Memphis and elsewhere that have led to KIPP, Aspire, and Green Dot backing out of lucrative contracts have not been made by "raising your voice," as Ravitch suggests but, rather, by concrete, unwavering demands and hard facts rubbed into the faces of the pretenders, profiteers, and corporate drones.  It has been done by parents and teachers and students willing to put their asses on the line because they know it's now or never. 

Where will Ravitch's Network leaders be when the declaration is made and the war is waged?  Will they be signing books, having another conference, singing songs, speaking into gold-plated bullhorns, making more excuses for the frozen resistance?  Or will they be making tea and receiving guests over on Tory Row?  

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