Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All the Propaganda That's Fit to Print

by special guest blogger North Brooklyn

     Steve Brill, whose last NYT article detailed why executives should make more money than g-d, has laid out the new education plan. Millions of dollars are to be paid out to develop data systems that will never affect the education of one child in this country. We old spinster teachers are wisely going along. We’ve made our case for years that these data systems are unworkable; that education is more complicated than that. But we are not stupid. We are not going to stand in the way of great gobs of money flowing into the coffers of the grand state of New York.

     Brill claims that by last March, Duncan had forced more school reform that the country had seen in decades-without spending a nickel. Standing around some state rotunda hearing a few education bureaucrats say, “Sure, Arne. We can do that,” does not qualify as reform.

     But Brill insists there are important forces at work; typified by Jon Schnur’s who heads the Manhattan based New Leaders for New Schools and the author of the RTTT spin. Ever heard of him? Me neither. These forces are blogging and emailing one another [so are the aficionados of Mary Kay cosmetics-doesn’t mean they are a force]. These forces went to an Ivy League school, taught for two years as TFA and have moved up the ranks and now run city or state systems.

     Who, the gentle reader might ask. Michelle Rhee, who can’t figure out a budget? Joel Klein, who can’t figure out how to get the yellow buses to the kids on time? Oh, those guys, yeah. That’s a rock solid education group.

     The second force at work, according to Brill, is a new crop of Democratic politicians--including Obama--who seem to be willing to challenge the teachers unions. Who wouldn’t? Have you taken a look at the bump in the polls every time a politician intones the words ‘bad teachers’? If I were running for office I’d blame the teachers for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

     Third, there are the powerful money interests like Bill Gates.  Bill,  at one time, didn’t think poor people needed computers, but learned very quickly that there is a lot of money to be shaken from that tree.

     And finally there is the charter school movement--an educational prairie fire that educates less that 5% of the children in this country and is rarely monitored except when something really bad happens.

     There is much ado about the sausage making going on and it pains Brill to report that the UFT and AFT want a fair process in place. Frankly it doesn’t pain me at all to write that American teachers insist on being treated fairly even if it gives the education industrialists heartburn. 

     Had Brill stopped there, it would have been enough. But that’s not Brill’s style. He compared two schools in NYC; one public, one charter, both in the same building. The charter school was lovely and the public school was not. Brill failed to note fundamental differences between the two school populations,  and certainly every NYC public school puts its best foot forward when the NY Times comes to call. Assuming Brill is writing the truth, he slipped in unannounced. This makes him an intruder. I’m sure he wouldn’t see it that way. I’m sure he sees himself as a nice guy who would hurt another person. But if he doesn’t even understand what unlawful public school intruders represent he's utterly unqualified to comment on the work of teachers.

     So, a plan will be created. Why? Because the Kid in Chief, Obama, and his basketball buddy, Duncan, love it. And the education bosses love it. And Jon Schnur’s parents love it because now he’ll move into his own apartment and start picking up the tab on his college loans because he is going to be making buckets of money.

   And public school children are left behind yet again.
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