Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Won't Do It To Ya, I'll Do It With Ya!

That's what President Barack Obama told the NEA when he was a candidate.  Everyone knew Obama supported charter schools.  No one knew he would insist that states drop charter caps. No one expected he'd give his blessing to firing an entire high school staff based on test scores, or that he'd end up largely a frontman for Bill Gates and the Wal-Mart family.

The NEA, last week, voted no confidence in the President.  They know he lied to them, and it's perfectly reasonable to lose faith in purveyors of lies.  The AFT, on the other hand, invited Gates to the convention and offered him several standing ovations.

In fact,  we know very well what Bill Gates has done.  We know that he started the small school movement, and that dozens of city schools have been closed to make way for them.  We know that the new schools were stocked with kids who didn't include the ones who'd enabled the scores that set the stage for said closings.

Also, we know that when Gates himself abandoned the small school notion, we were still stuck with it.  The fact that ideas don't work means nothing to Joel Klein, and as small schools fail, despite their unfair advantages, he closes them and replaces them with even newer ones.  From that, a sensible person can infer we will be stuck with his current and future bad ideas too, as Gates drops seed money for whatever else strikes his fancy and we're left footing the bill to continue whatever idiocy suited him before he came to his senses, however briefly.

The watchword here is accountability, and it's significant that neither Joel Klein nor Michael Bloomberg is accountable for anything whatsoever.  Everything, and I mean everything, is dumped upon the laps of unionized teachers.

A theme of Gates' that seemed to resonate with the crowd was that cooperation of teachers was paramount for "reforms" to work.  That's ironic, considering that there's no evidence whatsoever that any "reforms" have worked at all.  The "reform"of the moment is value-added, or holding teachers responsible for test scores.  After all, under the new paradigm, swallowed hook, line and sinker by Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew, neither Joel Klein nor Bill Gates nor parents nor society nor kids themselves are responsible for anything whatsoever.  

Here's the thing, though--Bill Gates does not enlist the cooperation of public school teachers.  He has no respect for them whatsoever, and invidiously compares them to KIPP teachers with no basis in fact.  And cooperation of teachers, to him, entails gaining concessions from leaders who don't bother to consult with rank and file.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the Delegate Assembly in September it was vital we cooperate with Bill Gates to find ways to measure teacher effectiveness.  Yet before the results of that program were even available he negotiated a "value-added" method of evaluating teachers in NY State with no input whatsoever for members.  There is no research whatsoever to suggest this method has any validity.    The UFT rationalizes this by saying only 40% of teacher rating will entail value added.  They state it's 50% in Colorado (thanks to Randi Weingarten, which they conveniently omit).

Unlike the NEA, the AFT has learned nothing from the lies of Barack Obama.

Or worse, they're cynically selling us out for no good reason at all.  Either way, it's beyond the pale, and these leaders are not working in the interests of working teachers.  Nor are the delegates, who seem to applaud on command as teachers face the most serious threats to the profession I've seen in a quarter-century on the job.

Any New York City delegate who applauded Bill Gates most certainly does not represent rank and file.   How these people sleep at night after having cheered the AFT sellout to the most destructive force in pubic education today simply boggles my mind.
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