Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Education Means to Mike and Joel

New York City parents roundly rejected Edison Schools. Still, Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein didn't get where they are today by caring what parents want, so a former Edison Schools president will become deputy chancellor.

Financially, education is a loser. It fails to turn a profit for the city. All it does it help kids prepare to take care of themselves in the future. But how does it make money for Wall Street? Klein and Bloomberg, by privatizing education, hope to deal with this issue. They've been unsuccessful at providing teachers for Wal-Mart wages, and they've had to pay for medical benefits, sick days, and pensions of many of those who actually taught kids. They don't want to do that anymore.

And that's why they want to privatize. Don't believe for one moment this is about helping kids. They could've done that a long time ago.

The NY Times said:

Edison's fortunes show that there is no cheap way to rescue failing schools and that the prospect of a swift turnaround and explosive educational progress was a mirage all along. The only way to improve public education is to provide every child with a bright, well-trained teacher and an orderly, well-run school. That tends to be labor-intensive — and expensive — and may never be profitable on the scale that the stock market requires.

Good teachers and well-run schools have been off the table for some time now. Mayor Mike, Klein and thier minions have other priorities. They don't want to pay for the attention special ed. kids need, and they surely don't want to pay for the attention my ESL kids need. They want to line the widgets up, sit them down, and get them out. They want to judge them by test scores, which they can raise as necessary (by lowering standards and picking who takes the tests). They don't want thoughtful teachers, but script-following automatons. They prefer shiny new gimmicks to demonstrable success stories.

Fortunately, they've got a willing partner in UFT President Randi Weingarten, who's enabled mayoral control, chipped away at teacher seniority, opened the door to merit pay, agreed to have teachers work the longest school year in the area (for probably the lowest pay), and who publicly forms committees to study contracts while actually accepting whatever comes down the pike. Most teachers are so demoralized they can't tell the difference.

Klein seeks to build on this, and we need someone who will stand up rather than collaborate. What can NYC parents do, now that they went and re-elected the guy? Write to him, write to the papers, and take to the streets with torches and pitchforks.

What can we do? Fortunately, we haven't voted yet. Let's dump Randi, dump Leo Casey, and dump the entire Unity-New Action patronage mill.

If not, be prepared for more bad news, and more even worse news.

Thanks to Schoolgal and Norm
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