Saturday, January 18, 2014

Where Predatory School Reform Reveals its Ugliest Face- School Closings and the Common Core Standards


If you want to see the ugly authoritarian impulse that lies at the heart of Predatory School Reform, and the total disrespect for teachers, school administrators, parents, students it embodies- take a look at two phenomena- the closing of allegedly "failing" schools in urban centers throughout the nation, and the sudden, stealth like imposition of the Common Core Standards in 45 states. Most journalists, and even education scholars have not connected these two policies, because the opposition to the first has come largely from Black and Latino parents, teachers and students in large cities, and the opposition to the second has come from predominantly white parents, teachers and students in small towns and suburbs, but in each instance, you have top down policies created by national elites that have been imposed with shocking and brutal suddenness. Worse yet, the voices of people at the local level who questions these policies have not only been disregarded, they have been treated with paternalistic contempt by those imposing the policies as well key figures responsible for creating them such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Vulture Philanthropist Blll Gates.

Three remarks by Secretary of Education embody the smug elitism at the hear of the Predatory School Reform world view - his comment that "Hurricane Katrina was the best thing that happened to the schools of New Orleans," his suggestion that opposition to Common Core was coming from "white suburban mothers who discovered that their kids aren't that smart" and his most recent comment that "most teachers come from the bottom of the academic barrel."

These remarks, and comparable comments from the likes of Michelle Rhee, Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, translate right down to policy implementation. Just get a hold of videos of the Common Core hearings in New York State and look at the smug faces of School Commissioner John King and Regents Chair Merryl Tisch in the face of the most eloquent testimony from parents, teachers and students on the damage done by the Core. Or look at video's of Chicago or Philadelphia School Board hearings on school closings and see the same contempt and indifference on the faces of public officials there. 

And finally look at yesterday's suspension of 4 Newark Principals and one PTA President by Newark School Czar Cami Anderson for speaking out against school closings in that city.

The people fighting School Closings, and the people fighting Common Core may not always look like on another, live in the same areas, or have the same past political affiliations, but they they are fighting the same battle against the same enemies- Predatory Reformers who making a mockery of local control of public schools and our best democratic traditions..

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