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

Friday, January 30, 2015

David Rudd Has a Problem That Won't Go Away Until He Does

Governor Haslam's crony, Brad Martin, and the corporate high rollers in Memphis made a mockery of the university search for President last year in order to appoint David Rudd as head of the University of Memphis.  Already ensconced as Provost when the call came, Rudd rushed into the president's office with a bunch of debts to pay off for the plutocratic support that got him his new job.

Rudd pushed forward with corporate consultation from Huron Consulting to put in place strategic budget implementation (SRI), which calls for departments to become entrepreneurial units that spend time dreaming up schemes to pay the rents they will be charged under the new plan.

Rudd farmed out web page redesign, student recruiting, and "rebranding," and he set about to reduce benefits for maintenance workers and temps to save money.  He cut $20 million cut from the University budget, mostly through personnel cuts, and he pursued the corporate plan for manufacturing a sense of financial crisis, with an accompanying austerity plan and corporate contracting.

To prove to Hyde, Gates, and the Walton clan that he could deliver on introducing private contracting of instructional programs, he huddled with corporate foundations and a corporate teacher prep program with no university connection to cut a deal that would send $5 million per year from University of Memphis accounts to the corporate welfare profiteers of the Relay Graduate School of Education.  Now that's strategic!!

The plan was hatched with no input from the College of Education at U of M, and no input from the other departments, all of which stand to lose students to the corporate Relay program if it goes forward.

Rudd's rationale?  Simple, and simply stupid.  Rudd argues that the University of Memphis sent only 19 students into Memphis's poorest schools last year, and the University should be sending more.

There are a couple of problems with this argument.  First, we must wonder how the President of U of M not only came to define the goals for the College of Education, and but how Rudd decided to create a plan to ostensibly reach that goal with no input from the College.

Which brings us to the second problem with Rudd's argument.  The poorest schools of Memphis have been losing certified teachers to Teach for America, which now has over 400 teachers in the poorest Memphis schools, with plans to have 550 by the fall of 2015.

Certified, professional career teachers are not interested in the poorest schools of Memphis because they have seen the writing on the wall that is spelled ASD and IZone.  The lowest scoring and poverty-ridden public schools of Memphis are scheduled to be swallowed up by the Achievement School District (ASD), which will hand them over to corporate charter operators, or they will be turned over Shelby County's Innovation Zone (IZone).

In either case, all teachers in these turnover schools to ASD or IZone will be fired and must reapply for jobs in the new "no excuses" hell schools that replace the community schools.  Professional teachers most dedicated to social justice are not interested in becoming prison guards.  It is only the naive undergrads who can be hoodwinked into these new hell schools.  This is the group that Rudd hopes to prey upon with his career-advancing corporate scheme.

Which brings us to the third problem with Rudd's loser rationale:  Relay was created to manufacture teachers for charter schools, and that remains its mission.  Relay uses brutal and discredited pedagogical techniques to create total compliance chain gangs that no middle class parent would ever allow for their own children.  This is Rudd's choice for what he calls "urban specific" teacher preparation for the poor kids in Memphis.

Will the students, faculty, and alumni of a great university allow this kind of corporate cram down by a self-serving fool who would trade the reputation of the University of Memphis for a chance to move up the corporate food chain?

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