Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Gates/ Walton/ Broad Fix for That Nagging Teacher Problem

A cheery little reverie by special guest blogger Michael Fiorillo
- Proclaim austerity for the public schools, while continuing to expand charters.
- Put non-educators in positions of power, from Assistant Principal on up.
- Maintain a climate of scapegoating and witch hunting for “bad teachers,” who are posited as the cause of poverty and student failure, doing everything possible to keep debate from addressing systemic inequities.
- Neutralize and eventually eliminate teacher unions (the former largely accomplished in the case of the AFT). As part of that process, eliminate tenure, seniority and defined benefit pensions.
- Create and maintain a climate of constant disruption and destabilization, with cascading mandates that are impossible to keep up or comply with.
- Create teacher evaluations based on Common Core-related high stakes tests for which no curriculum has been developed. Arbitrarily impose cut scores on those exams that cast students, teachers and schools as failing, as was done by NYS Education Commissioner John King and Regent Meryl Tisch.
- Get teachers and administrators, whether through extortion (see RttT funding) threats or non-stop propaganda, to accept the premises of “data-driven” everything, even when that data is irrelevant, opaque, contradictory, or just plain wrong.
- Get everyone to internalize the premises and language of so-called education reform:
 – Parents are not citizens with rights, but “customers” who are provided                        “choices” that are in practice restricted by the decisions of those in charge, based on policies developed by an educational-industrial complex made up of foundations, McKinsey-type consultants and captive academics.
– Students are “assets” and “products,” whose value is to be enhanced (see the definition of VAM) by teachers before being offered to employers.
 – Teachers are fungible units of “human capital,” to be deployed as policy-makers and management see fit. Since human capital depreciates over time,it needs to be replaced by fresh capital, branded as “the Best and Brightest.”
– Schools are part of an investment “portfolio,” explicitly including the real estate they inhabit, and are subject to the “demands” of the market and the preferences of policy-makers and management.
- Create an intimidating, punitive environment, where the questions and qualms of teachers are either disregarded or responded to with threats.
- Get the university education programs on board under threat of continuing attack. Once they acquiesce, go after them anyway, and deregulate the teacher licensing process so that it’s easier to hire temps.
- Eliminate instruction that is deemed irrelevant to the most narrowly-cast labor market needs of employers, getting rid of art, music, dance, electives, etc., thereby reducing the focus of education to preparation for passive acceptance of low-wage employment.
- Embed software and electronic gadgets in every facet of the classroom and school, from reading to test taking, with the intention of automating/digitizing as much classroom input and output as possible.
- Use the automation/digitiliztion of the classroom to enlarge class size – something explicitly promoted by Bill Gates – and transform teachers into overseers of student digital production that is connected to massive databases, so that every keystroke is data that can be potentially monetized.
- Cash your bonus checks, exercise your stock options, declare Excellence and Civil Rights achieved, and go on to Better Things.
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