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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pick a Side and Stick to It

In response to an earlier post on NPE, CTA, and TURN, a school board member responded by noting  "what a mess."  As an antidote, she suggested that those in the fight for public education should "pick a side and stick to it." I concur.

I concur.  In the battle against the privatizers, corporate welfare schemers, and ideologues of greed, there is no room for fence straddling or Janus-faced policy talk that tries to claim a non-existent middle ground between public school advocates and the enemies of public education.  Pick a side and stick with it, indeed.

Sadly, the NPE/AFT/NEA alliance tries to pick all sides, while sticking to none of them.  Sadder, still, NPE’s annual talkathons (as in Oakland) are exemplars of how to mollify, co-opt,  and contain those who would, otherwise, resist the corporate reformists, if they were not being misled by NPE policy actions aimed to appease Democratic and Republican oligarchs who sit on the left and right aisles, respectively, of the same corporate jet.

NPE's mirage of resistance has been perfected over the past quarter century by AFT and NEA, long before Diane’s self-proclaimed abandonment in 2008 of her role as a chief architect of corporate education reform. On the topic of charter schools, for instance, AFT and NEA were for them before they were against them, and before being for them again, at least for those charters whose corporate CEOs allow their under-prepared teachers to become union members.

The charter policy schizophrenia reaches its zenith, we may suspect, in the recent NPE “position statement” on charters—or positions statement would be a better descriptor.  In the following two paragraphs that appear one after the other, it is clear that NPE prefers to have their cake and eat it, too (bolds in the original):
For all of the reasons above and more, the Network for Public Education regards charter schools as a failed experiment that our organization cannot support. If the strength of charter schools is the freedom to innovate, then that same freedom can be offered to public schools by the district or the state.

At the same time, we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level.
So let's leave in place almost 8,000 of these segregated public money sinks, even though they represent a failed experiment??  And what is to trigger this eventual absorption?  And what will NPE do to trigger it??

NPE’s embrace of a moratorium on charters fits their Janus-faced charter policy perfectly, and it allows those attending this year’s Oakland event to have some vague sense, perhaps, that something has been done to slow the public school steamroller.  And talk of a moratorium, even though no moratorium exists, allows the bloggers and Facebook folks in Ravitch’s Basecamp to remain entirely contented to hold up in their cozy tent and continue to chat about someday striking out to claim the summit.  Pure theatre.

Talk of moratoriums by Diane Ravitch's flock has all the power of spitting into the wildfires that were raging in Sonoma and Napa last week.  The greater strength of this charter moratorium focus is in the power to assuage the uninformed and to suppress policy resistance and action within an endless cycle of tough-sounding policy talk, even as corporate policies given explicit or implicit approval (sometimes with fanciful caveats that corporate deformists never take seriously). 

In short, NPE is worse than doing nothing, for it gives the false impression that something is being done by organizations intent upon making teachers complicit in the destruction of public schools.

The NPE/NEA/AFT chiefs label those who are not placated by their pretense as fringe actors or policy purists, which is their way of thinking about principled demands that are unrepentant, unwavering, and uncompromising.


  1. NPE and others might be straddling the fence but "Child Abuse in the Classroom: A Legal Challenge to ESSA" is not straddling. We are going after the law that will destroy all chances of ever putting education back under parental/local control. We are also requesting that FERPA be restored and the Obama changes to regulation be rolled back. Shutting out the lights on the US Dept. of Education will do nothing to stop this destructive train coming down the tracks. Currently there is more education policy and funding in HHS and Dept. of Labor that if we go down the path of shutting down the deparment they will only move whatever is left to HHS, Dept. of Labor and the Treasury. (HR1510 is a good example). HR899 has no chance of going anywhere. Why would we support a bill that has no details. Pass the bill and the details come later?? HR1510 has the details. Shutting down the US Dept. of Education cannot override law passed by Congress back in December 2015 (S1177 ESSA). Prior to passing ESSA shutting down the department might have made some sense but everything the progressive agenda wanted was codified in ESSA and the loosening of regulations under FERPA. They have the entire ball of wax at this point and shutting down the department is probably something they will do because they know it will have little effect but give the public a false sense of security just like the rebranding of Common Core standards. ESSA does not repeal Common Core and it does not restore state and local control in the sense that we are being told. I hope you will be interested in our campaign and share what we are doing with your readers. www.childabuseintheclassroom.com is headed up by Anita Hoge.

  2. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Charter schools, ably assisted by district administration, are devouring The Newark Public Schools with a moratorium nowhere in sight.

    Abigail Shure