Friday, April 06, 2012

Michelle Rhee's Greater New York Flat Earth Society

Michelle Rhee has brought her spectacular "Students First" program to New York. This is significant because, with only billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor 1% Cuomo to push endless "reform," it needs more representation. So she's started a group! After all, if Mayor4Life declines his right to change the law again and buy a fourth term, it's possible a candidate who is not insane may emerge.

So Rhee has gathered a bunch of CEOs, whose education expertise, like that of renowned expert Bill Gates, stems from the millions of dollars they've managed to accumulate. Of course she's recruited Joel Klein, who presided over the spectacular rise in NYC test grades that later proved to be completely unfounded, not to mention the no-bid contract from Alvarez and Marsal that left schoolchildren shivering on the coldest day of the year, waiting for buses that never arrived. He also managed to close hundreds of schools he claimed were failing. The fact that these schools invariably had high concentrations of high-needs students was neither here nor there. Joel Klein has a no excuses POV, and he made none as he blamed unionized teachers for absolutely everything that troubled these schools.

Another important achievement of Joel Klein's was to establish a two-tier school system. Charter schools, largely unburdened by those nasty union contracts, were established. And his BFF, Eva Moskowitz, sits on the committee. After all, if she doesn't get a pro-"reform" mayor, it might be her schools relegated to basements, rather than the public school kids. Klein himself sent his kids to private schools, with class sizes under 15. For regular New Yorkers, they can enter a lottery and hope for the best. Why bother fixing schools when you can just close them, shuffle kids all over the city, and then close them some more?

Then, of course, he resigned, took one of the pensions he claims teachers shouldn't get, and took a high-paying gig with media mogul and master propagandist Rupert Murdoch.

Of course they needed a teacher, to legitimize their enterprise. So where else would they go but E4E, which takes Gates money to support every darn "reform" that comes down the pike. And the teacher they selected comes from an F-rated school. I suppose it's good to hedge your bets so that if Mayor Bloomberg closes your school, you can score some cushy gig with Gates or Rhee while your colleagues shuffle all over the city as ATRs (who E4E thinks should be fired).

And the darndest thing about this whole club is this--none of their ideas--value-added, merit pay, charter schools, firing teachers for the hell of it--have actually proven to help anyone or anything but the bottom line. If I were chancellor, a real one rather than a pawn of the mayor, I'd move to reduce class sizes, retain experienced teachers, and teach kids in real classrooms rather than trailers and closets. But I'm a dreamer.

Still, my ideas, unlike those of Rhee and her corporate whores, are not for sale to the highest bidder.
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