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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Huge Corporate Testing Balls and the Shrunken Civil Rights Fig Leaf

When Bush II was in the White House, he dismissed skeptics of NCLB's monstrous deformation of educational equity as scoundrels engaged in the "soft bigotry of low expectations."  Never mind the skeptics were to be proven right, for by the time they were, a brand new privatization fleet had been launched and corporate charter school growth was enjoying exponential growth, even as public schools were being blown apart.  As Glen Ford noted recalled in 2012,
High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good. . . . Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers.
In 2010 when Arne Duncan saw the corporate reformers' propaganda film, Waiting for Superman, at the gala premiere in DC, he declared it a "Rosa Parks moment."  By this he apparently meant that corporate charter reform schoolers were moving from the back of the policy bus and that, in fact, the federal government was going to buy them a brand new bus or as many as they might need to transfer, segregate, restrain, and culturally sterilize the disadvantaged children of urban America.

As Peter Greene suggests in a blog post today, corporate education reformers, indeed, have confiscated the language of the civil rights movement to rationalize the imposition of another generation of racist and classist testing in schools.  Both Bush and Duncan provide earlier exemplars of this practice, and today both Randi Weingarten and Lily Garcia offer prime examples of reformster advocacy trying to hide behind coerced and/or corrupt statements from the shrunken corporate remains of civil rights organizations that dare not bite the hand of the billionaire foundations that feed them.

This past weekend in Chicago, Weingarten said “civil rights leaders” support standardized testing because they don’t want African-American children to be invisible.  That simple-minded gloss, then, offers Weingarten reason enough to do likewise.

Taking a lead role in calling for another generation of standardized testing, which will be used to justify community school closures and apartheid charter replacements or vouchers, are the self-promoters at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), who owes their org's existence to the Walton Foundation and Rod Paige's ED under Bush II.

But we cannot ignore the obvious conflict of interest of Wade Henderson, the current "president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella group of civil rights advocates that includes the NAACP and the National Urban League:" 
Henderson, who has testified before Congress on the importance of keeping the testing mandate, sits on the board of trustees for the Educational Testing Service, the country’s largest such private nonprofit assessment company. He earned $88,250 from ETS in 2013, the most recent year for which tax records are available.
Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report understands the issues for what they are:
 If the black political class and black educators really stood for the interests of their students and communities they would be educating black parents and students across the country about their right to opt out of tests that serve no legitimate educational purpose, as teachers in Chicago and Seattle are already doing.
But that's problematic too. Opposing standardized testing would place the black political class in conflict not with the slippery nebulous demons of institutional racism, but biting some of the very real and easy-to-find hands in corporate America that feed it. Taking issue with standardized testing, Common Core and the drive to privatize education would put black educators in opposition to corporate America, to the Gates, Walton Family (Wal-Mart), Eli Broad and other foundations, and to Republicans and Democrats including President Obama and Arne Duncan, his Secretary of Education. This is not an easy thing to do when national black “civil rights” organizations from the National Action Network and the National Urban League have eagerly accepted corporate-engineered school reform with corporate dollars, and President Obama is deeply beholden to the charter school sugar daddies.
One can only wonder what Du Bois or Malcolm X or Dr. King would say about black misleaders and corporate union leaders embracing the white corporate agenda under the threadbare pretense of getting needed attention for black children who are being victimized and terrorized by that same corporate testing agenda.

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