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

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Resistance Grows to Relay and Rudd in Memphis

At yesterday's "public forum on the Relay debacle at the University of Memphis,  President David Rudd stood safely behind his Provost as citizens expressed their concerns over the Hyde-Gates-Walton plan to have the University of Memphis pay an outside contractor $5 million per year to offer an oppressive "urban specific" teacher ed program.  

A concerned mom from Bartlett, Jennifer Proseus, was there to remind Rudd which way the moral compass points:
“I see what happened with privatization of education, and it scares me and makes me mad. . . . Children in low-performing schools need and deserve really qualified teachers. They do not need fast-tracked teachers using them as a steppingstone on their resumes. That is wrong. I am saying that, and I want it heard.”
She was referring, of course, to plans to make sure the newly-mistrained teachers will hang around for at least three years before they head off to open their own charter franchises.
During the meeting, Rudd took the opportunity pretended his backroom dealing and lack of transparency may be blamed on the fact that the Faculty Senate uses parliamentary procedure, which obviously gets in the way of Rudd's preferred mode of running down anyone who stands in the way of the corporate bandwagon he is driving.  Referring to the Senate's use of standard protocol and shared governance model, Rudd said,  “The university can’t wait for the Senate to argue Robert's Rules of Order.”  

Really?  This is the President of a major university whose office is on the record in support of shared governance?

Rudd had the following rather disturbing analogy, blaming the poorest schools for the fetid social and economic climate that staggering income equality and antebellum mindsets work to maintain in Memphis.  From Jane Roberts piece in the Commercial Appeal:
Rudd’s point is that the number of low-performing schools here is like a rat chewing at the city’s potential, threatening it and the university too. As an institution uniquely qualified to help, Rudd says the university is obligated to step forward.
If the university "is obligated to step forward," we may wonder why Rudd insists on relinquishing that responsibility by contracting out the professional work to an unqualified bunch of amateurs with no university affiliation, especially when UofM has a College of Education filled with competent professionals.  

When UofM departments have to pay for classroom and office space, why should the university turn around and pay $5 million a year to a NY corporation to run a brutal kind of teacher prep based on a book of 19th Century methods written by a corporate charter CEO?  Reley represents a variety of extreme paternalistic teaching, by the way, that middle class parents like the Rudds or the Hydes would never allow for their own children. 

Here are the books that Relay sent to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.  The reason there's nothing before 2012 is that this outfit did not exist until 2011.  In the meantime, those millions of non-profit just keep piling up.  If things work out for Norm Atkins, he can count another big annual gift from the University of Memphis.

Where was this $5 million invested?  Could it be with Larry "LTrain" Robbins, one of the hedge fund billionaires who helped found Relay's predecessor, TeacherU?


  1. He actually said that this Relay program at the U of M was an "experiment" when asked if there was any evidence to support Relay's "teaching" techniques help children. So the rat thing may have been an extended analogy: but the rats are the kids he feels free to "experiment" on without parental consent, not the schools. Someone attending has a voice recording of this statement where Rudd said this was an "experiment" on these children. Please let the public know what Rudd thinks of poor African-American kids.

  2. Thanks for blogging about my comment!

    The Commercial Appeal didn't pick up on the alarming comment that Rudd made about Relay being an "experiment". (At least one person recorded the meeting on her phone, so I can prove it was said by him). It is wrong to "experiment" on poor, minority children. It would never happen to middle class or upper class children. I told Rudd that during my comment time. I hope he heard me.

    Also interesting to note is that a Chalkbeat reporter was there covering the meeting (Daarel Burnette II), but Chalkbeat has yet to release an article about it. Perhaps it has something to do with the funders of Chalkbeat being the same as the Relay funders??? If Chalkbeat can't write anything nice about their donors' pet projects, they just don't write anything at all.

    1. I also heard the "experiment" comment. In fact, I was gonna ask his opinion about some people calling what he is doing a human experiment. But he says it himself. Wow. He appears more and more unprepared.