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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Ravitch Embraces TURN Agenda, Openly This Time

The Union Reform Network (TURN) was established as a joint venture among Eli Broad, Bill Gates, and the leadership of NEA and AFT.  TURN was created with millions of dollars from Gates and Broad, and the new "reform network" they created aimed to co-opt and use the teachers' unions as essential levers to advance corporate education reform agendas and the corporate political agenda of dismantling the hard-earned rights and benefits of teachers.

Those goals have not changed over the past 20 years, even if the rhetoric has been fine-tuned to appeal to unsuspecting teachers enticed by phrases like "teacher-led visions."

Earlier this month, TURN issued its most explicit version yet of its long-standing goals, this time with objectives included, along with some of the strategies that TURN intends to use.  Within a few days of TURN's publication of its new document, Diane Ravitch posted her support of the TURN agenda, as spelled out in the latest proclamation, Our TURN: Revitalizing Public Education . . .:
It is a good report. It refutes the common refrain from corporate reformers that there is no alternative to their cramped and toxic practice of high-stakes testing and school choice. It is a public school response to the Betsy DeVos’ belief in the free market of charter schools and vouchers for religious schools.

This is a worthy presentation of a well-resourced public school system, staffed by experienced teachers whose collective voices are represented in the policymaking process, and whose voices carry more weight than those of the politicians who write unreasonable and impossible mandates. 
Along with her glowing assessment, Ravitch posted a most saccharine "Rationale" from the TURN document, along with even more syrupy "Vision" from Our TURN . . . 

Here's the "Vision:"

As teachers and teacher unionists, we believe that teaching and learning can be transformed if we embrace a new vision of education that rests on four pillars, each of which bears equal weight:

1. If we want schools to prepare student to be career and college ready, thoughtful citizens, and reflective human beings, then schools should be safe, learner-centered and well-resourced to serve the needs of each individual student.

2. If teachers are the most important in-school determinant of student learning, then teaching must be recognized as a true profession.

3. If America needs to tap into the talents of all students, irrespective of their background, then educational excellence must be inclusive and education redesign must be accompanied by changes in other aspects of students’ lives.

4. If all education policy must ultimately be about enhancing opportunities for students to learn, then collective bargaining (and other forms of collaborative decision-making) between teachers and management should always aim to advance student learning.

The Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), a coalition of teachers and teacher union leaders from AFT and NEA union locals, was founded 20 years ago “to promote progressive reforms in education and in teacher unions.” To all who are engaged in the debate about the future of public education – whether practitioners or policymakers — this document lays out precisely what we aspire to.

We begin with our idea of what education, schools and classrooms could and should look like, then turn to the policies needed to bring about that vision.
What's not to love, right?  Sounds like something we can all get in bed on board with.

What Ravitch does not post or even mention are the "Policy and Practice" objectives that TURN provides in the document, all of which reflect long-standing priorities of corporate reformers:

1) linking collective bargaining to accountability testing gains,

2) weakening seniority rights (particularly related to administrative transfers),

3) eliminating of teacher salary schedules in favor of merit pay schemes, and

4) dismantling system-wide collective bargaining agreements for the kinds of school-based preferences that made Green Dot's hostile takeover of Locke High School possible.

These are the policies, then, that TURN will continue to pursue, now with the added support from Diane Ravitch's NPE:
We back “quality bargaining” that puts student learning at the center of collective bargaining (and other collaborative) agreements and requires that all proposals be buttressed by evidence of how they contribute to the advancement of student learning.

We support the highest standards for teachers and reject the allegation that due process rights provide a lifetime job guarantee. Accordingly, we support the widespread adoption of peer assistance and review procedures that support struggling teachers and in some instances remove teachers from the profession.

We call for the possibility of flexible, site-specific negotiated agreements, where a super­majority of teachers in a school can override the corresponding district-wide contract to allow for tailoring terms and conditions to improve teaching and learning.

We propose modifying consideration of seniority in school transfer decisions in cases where fair teacher-led hiring practices are put in place.

We call for modifying the traditional single salary schedule and instead adopting differ­entiated pay that recognizes that teaching is broad in its scope of responsibilities. . . .

We advocate meaningful consultation with parents and community members as part of the process of collective bargaining (or other agreements) with management.
Oh yes, and if you are wondering if TURN has forgotten the latest corporate tech fixation on de-personalized learning and the elimination of brick and mortar schools, TURN has not forgotten.  Here's the way TURN couches the new "competency-based" screen-based learning as "learner-centered schools:"
In learner-centered schools, students are rarely lectured to. Instead, learning is collaborative, and students do most of the work themselves. The paradigm of students who sit still and absorb material is replaced by well-crafted, active learning opportunities that promote cooperation, analysis, and synthesis. 

And in learner-centered schools, learning is connected to the real world. Lessons often take place in real life settings, not just in classrooms. 
In the past, Diane Ravitch struggled to downplay her connections to TURN by attacking and disparaging motives of anyone who noticed as much.  In 2013, for instance, when lawyer and whistle blower, Kathleen Carroll, pointed to Ravitch's speech at one of TURN's meetings (and another speech to psychologists funded by Pearson), Ravitch lashed out, as did Diane's venomous protege, Mercedes Schneider.

Now quite suddenly, Diane Ravitch has openly endorsed TURN's latest statement of its agenda.  And she has done so with the typically deceptive and dissembling techniques that Ravitch perfected during her many years as a loyal lieutenant to Chester Finn and Lamar Alexander.

Some more links to TURN's activities:






1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:58 PM

    At what price do we ignore the role of institutional racism in the educational system to replicate the entrenched social class structure of our society? Having spent well over a quarter of a century teaching ESL in poor urban communities, I bear witness to the inexcusable inequalities imposed upon the neediest children in the richest nation on the face of the Earth.

    Abigail Shure