Monday, November 9, 2009

Where will unchecked reform of SPS lead to?

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This is an email exchange on Nov 9, 2009
[Joan writes] In comments I saw tonight on Melissa's blog, I am seeing indications that the purpose of the SAP is in fact to increase the % low-income and %minorities within individual buildings.

This is really alarming to me, because it will surely lead to more school failures than would have occurred if we were to keep the open enrollment scheme. Failures, in turn, lead to "district interventions.

Have any of you read about what "district intervention" means? It is the most harmful thing that can happen to public school children and the teachers that care about them.

I think this is a deliberate policy, because more school failures means more business income opportunities for private tutoring services, and -- if this State should pass charter authorizing legislation (I am told that is very unlikely - but I don't see it as so unlikely)---for charter management organizations

Does this worry you at all?

[S. writes]Yes it does.

Two other thoughts cross my mind on this: the SAP curtails school "choice." This may lead to new parent discontent and demand for other options, and could prime the community to be open to charters

If your prediction plays out, Joan, and many or all SPS schools fail, then yes it could lead to an "intervention." But wouldn't that also look terrible on the resumes of MGJ and the board members? Imagine the headlines -- on MGJ's watch, SPS went from XX % passing/successful schools down to -XX %. Do we think she would be willing to have this on her record


IF -- she and the reformites can shift the blame for "failure" entirely onto teachers (though it would still look bad that SPS schools plummeted under her leadership).

Or, and here's a totally Machiavellian theory: If the reformites's goal is to prep SPS for takeover and are paying MGJ enough and padding her nest enough with all these board memberships, affiliations, job security and perqs, is it possible that MGJ is willing to be the saboteur of SPS?

What comes to mind are all the toadies who were willing to give bogus 'data' and testimony and be the fall guys to help Bush/Cheney in their rush to war in Iraq. Are we possibly looking at players and scruples of that order?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I would really like to be wrong about these darker theories....

[Joan writes] I have read tons of stuff about what's happening in other districts, and your description is pretty much my interpretation. The people behind school reform have devised a brilliant strategy, and it is highly successful in serving the true goals of the movement. It has not been successful in serving the ostensible goals of the movement.

The corporatist reformer's plan is not to make all schools fail, but to ensure that some fail (those that serve low-income minority populations), and to make the rest of the non-charter public schools mediocre. Then families who put a high priority on education but can't afford private school will start to demand charters. The New School fits into this as a demonstration project: It shows that charter schools can be better than public schools. A successful program like New School also engenders low-income/minority community support for more of the same, since it primarily serves students from this community.

There will need to be a few charter schools and theme-based non-charter schools to satisfy the voting public. A few good charter school will also serve to deliver public subsidy to wealthy parents who otherwise would send their kids to private school. For those who can afford private school, this is the second best option after vouchers, which very few states permit.

Most charter schools will serve low-income minority populations. This fits in with the privateers' emphasis on closing the achievement gap. The problem is that most of the schools serving these kids will be either military charters or militaristic, highly regimented charters, like Mastery Charter Schools. I have seen recently that the Mastery model is being replicated outside of Pittsburgh, where it started. These are the charter schools that are most profitable, and do not require foundation support.

[A more honest name for MGJ's strategic plan is this: "Industrialized Education for All Non-Charter Public School Students".]

I am certain that it is the profit motive that explains why the reform movement focuses on "closing the achievement gap [artificially defined]." and why the movement seeks secretly to promote school failure. This emphasis also serves the longstanding business community's desire to have the non-elite schools produce submissive, literate work-ready graduates. Remember tha the Mastery School Model requires all students to participate in a non-paid job internship as a graduation requirement. They go to their "job" every Wednesday afternoon during the school year. The elite schools won't go away- these schools will continue to produce well-qualified graduates who are ready to go on to college and then to successful productive careers in science, enginerring, technology, and business.

Even if we don't get charter legislation passed (there is advocacy at the state level to get the legislators to pass a law that paves the way for charters, in order to qualify for the RTT funds -- never mind that the one-time prize [max $0.4 billion] is trivial compared to the annual state spending on K-12 [about $13 billion this year] and the profundity of change that charters will bring to K-12 education for decades to come.)

I do believe that MGJ is a sabatuer. It doesn't matter if her resume looks bad. Any way, interventions are good, from the pro-charter reformist point of view. MGJ can afford taking the risk of getting run out of town by anger parents and teachers, since the Broad Foundataion will make sure that MGJ has future jobs. Look at Arlene Ackerman: I heard she was "run out of S.F.", After that, and until recently she worked on the Broad Faculty, Now she is a superintendent again in Philly or Pittsburgh (don't remember which just now). Another Broad sup that left her job in disgrace was set up with a consultancy, but the Broad arranged for her to become one of the finalists in the search for teh replace in Pomona Calif (the Broad-sponsored sup there was called to D.C. to work for Arne as an Assistand Sec. of Educ.). By the way, Arlene Ackerman, along with Tom Payzant and Mark Roosevelt (Mark was Arlene's predecessor in Pittsburh) were three consultants MGJ listed on her Plan of Entry as her prefered candidates for her Strategic Plan development team.

MGJ's affiliation with the Broad is the biggest conflict of interest. I already have all the documentation to show that the Broad commits to providing on-going career support for their Fellows. This is exactly why the Fellows don't mind antagonizing the public. I believe this is why MGJ is able to sleep at night (remember the quote I am referring to?)

Why does the Broad like African American and Hispanic recruits to their "fellowship" program? I do not doubt that it is because it is harder for people to recognize the racist intent and effects of corporatist reform when the Superintendent does not have white skin.

I browsed the Curriculum Aligment section of the SPS website very recently. I see there evidence of business-people (probably our beloved Broad Residents) having a lot of influence on the curriculum. What I noticed was the economics section of Social Studies is far more developed than the Science Curriculum. The other subjects in Social Studies (civics, geography, history) are also better developed than the Science Curriculum. This is so weird, but understandable: School Reform wants students to be respectful of governent, law, and order, and capitalism. The economics curriculum is very capitalism-center. It starts in KG or 1st grade, with teachers expected to introduce the laws of supply and demand to these youngsters! The twelvth grade Economics Curriculum looks comparable to the introductory macroeconomics course I took in college - way more advanced than I think is needed for a high school graduate.

I think the whole scheme is modified Machiavellian. The ends and the means aren't exactly what the reformist portray to the public. Nor will the ostensible ends lead to success in achieving the ostensible means. The whole scheme is SO perverted.

And its well underway in Seattle. I don't think we will have a better change than this (putting conditions on pro-levy votes) to get Seattle off the perverted reform track, and on to a path of genuine, constructive reform.

Even if my proposal is wildy successful, we still have the problem that Mike McGinn intends to make the School Board directors appointed positions. If he succeeds in this, then all the efforts are moot. We have to figure out how to prevent Mike from succeeding in this. I fear that he may try to bring this about much earlier if he sees that a true grass roots movement is succeeding in averting continued corporatist reform.

[P. writes] Joan, S, et al., we should meet up soon and line out some objectives. We've researched and read ourselves to death on this stuff and we know what's going on. We've seen it all before, haven't we?

We've done a reasonably good job at the lower and middle levels in our community, and praise Meg Diaz for getting the financial scandal onto the TV news, but we need to start getting our concerns out into the community and amongst the politicians.

Perhaps we should write a letter to McGinn, making him aware of our concerns and dissatisfaction with our current crop of talking heads, but making it abundantly clear to him that Mayoral Control or Charters are NOT THE ANSWER, and why. From there, maybe we could meet with him and outflank the Stand For Children/League of Ed Voters/CPPS organizations that will be looking for the first seat at the table. I think the time to act is drawing near. ?

1 comment:

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