Jeb Bush Is Planting Seeds

August 13, 2013
A "Chief for Change" Speaks

A “Chief for Change” Speaks

Fresh off addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council ( the infamous ALEC, ) former Governor of Florida, friend of President Obama, “Chief For Change”, and non-educator education expert Jeb Bush made an extraordinarily radical and revealing suggestion about the future of teaching in an interview to 89 WLS in Chicago. Bush, calmly displaying his usual oceanic contempt for teachers at the same time that he feigns reverence, repeated much of what have become corporate education reform memes (wholesale identification of learning with standardized test scores, “embracing digital learning” ) and strategies ( merit pay, elimination of due process or tenure. )
In the midst of this, Bush serenely makes the insane suggestion that the teacher certification process be eliminated. In doing so, Bush simultaneously suggests that teaching is a field needing no preparation and is one effectively open to every
( presumably literate ) adult in the United States.

For Bush, the professionalism of teachers is established by their desire to separate themselves from teacher unions and be paid according to their “doing a good job. “
“Doing a good job”, in turn, means a teacher raising the standardized test scores of their students.

It is tempting to dismiss such a reckless and ignorant suggestion as the elimination of certification with a snide comment and a laugh, but such a response, I believe, at this stage of the game would be very much a mistake. Indeed, it would be playing into the hands of those who wish to destroy us.

What is disturbing about suggestions such as the elimination of teacher certification is that there is a very discernable pattern over the last decade of “reformers” putting out suggestions and making claims that then seemed equally absurd and reckless and would have been laughable a short time before only to become horrific realities shortly thereafter. What teacher would have ever predicted the advent of Obama and his reprehensible Race to the Top, now successfully undermining schools and unions from coast to coast? What teacher would have ever predicted that tenure in the city of New York would be effectively nullified by an evaluation plan created and pushed into law by the teachers union? What teacher would have ever predicted the appalling condescension emanating out of the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards? What teacher, in short, has foreseen the chilling combination of military precision and utter ruthlessness on the part of the predator class and its political employees like Cuomo, Emmanuel and Obama, ramming through their once unthinkable agendas with ease ?

Not I.

And yet, all of the above degradations masquerading as reforms begin precisely this way. One figure making a speech here, giving an interview there, writing an editorial over there, and on and on. Consider these actions the planting of seeds in the public consciousness, the first step in the manipulation of perception management. Soon enough a notion vomited out of a grotesquerie like ALEC is repeated ad nauseum and treated as if it arose from the soil. It is then earnestly parroted by the likes of Brian Williams, wept over by Oprah, championed by PBS and NPR, ogled by Thomas Friedman and Nicolas Kristoff, and chanted by members of billionaire created “grass roots” organizations like Educations 4 Excellence, Parent Revolution and Stand For Children and so on.

And such is the way conventional wisdom is manufactured today in the US of A.
Consider the robust debates that never took place over the merits and value of standardized testing, now the central nervous system of America’s entire school system.

“Bush” according to the article that reported the interview, “ said his education plan would also do away with certification processes. He said they make eligibility requirements for teachers too restrictive, Chicago being a prime example.”

What Bush did not say, however, is of even greater import that what he did. Besides an overall disgrace, what would result from the implementation of Bush’s plan of eliminating teacher certification combined with the elimination of due process or tenure ?
There would be an instantaneous exponential increase in the teacher labor pool allowing and even “incentivizing “the wholesale firings of entire teaching staffs as they would be as instantly replaceable as migrant farm workers. This, in turn, would further degrade the public school system and thus disgust parents who would then be offered the alternative of charter schools or perhaps a voucher.
Most importantly, it would eviscerate the solidarity of teachers, which would in turn eviscerate unions.
If the past were indeed prologue, than we would do well to take Bush’s suggestion, as disgusting as it is, with great seriousness. In it one sees, perhaps more transparently than usual, the true, long term underlying intention of education reform: the evisceration of unions and the privatization of the most vital and glorious of all American public institutions, the public school system. This, in turn, is meant as a major step in the radical reconfiguration of labor relations in all fields for all American workers.

These people think in terms of decades.
Americans must understand: Education reform is not about education and it never was.

Following is the interview.


3 Responses to “Jeb Bush Is Planting Seeds”

  1. Joe Says:

    Interesting post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sean Ahern Says:

    So we have ALEC and Jeb Bush lining up against teacher certification and we have Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten calling for a national teacher certification exam. Is there a door number three for k-12 educators and the communities we serve?
    I think both of these arguments for and against teacher certification proceed from self interests that are at odds with both students, teachers and the need to build a movement in defense of public education.
    Half of the required courses (I’m being generous) for the masters in ed are worthless, yet they are very expensive. The NYS certification exam has never been validated, it was imposed with no study that I can find that even suggested that it would either improve teacher retention or student achievement. When it was imposed in NYS in 1996 it led to the firing of 10,000 working teachers by 2002 who either did not take or did not pass the exam.
    In my opinion the NYS teacher certification process mainly serves to justify the state education bureaucracy, giving them the role as gatekeeper.
    The AFT/UFT leadership supports ever more onerous and restrictive certification hurdles as a way of creating a job cartel which stabilizes their dues base. It is an old AFL union approach to seek control over the job market as a basis for union organization. It is very narrow and replaces class consciousness with middle class professionalism which I don’t think accords with the actual position of k-12 public school educators and creates a false barrier between educators and the people.
    By creating an expensive and exclusive right of passage, many if not most of those teachers who have passed through it and been forced to pay for it understandably wax indignant at the suggestion that it was largely a waste of time. Others admit that most of what they have learned that has actually been of use has been through practice and reflection and with the support of more experienced teachers.
    I think that the craft of teaching demands a high level of skill and knowledge if one is to be good at it. I think that those engaged in the practice should be the ones to design the training and apprenticeship needed. Not the state or union leaders who are in business for themselves. As far as accountability goes this also should be gauged by those most directly involved, educators, parents and students.
    The graduate schools of education should be collapsed into teaching schools and those who have completed undergraduate work should begin their careers through a three year apprenticeship under the guidance of experienced educators. Benchmarks of achievement could be set over the course of this apprenticeship (paid of course) and salary increments would follow. There is no reason for the huge disparity in salaries that now prevail in the UFT salary schedule. It is largely the result of more divide and control tactics put in place by the UFT leadership which is not being used against the veteran teacher. Those very same people who should be leading in the training and certification of the next generation of teachers. Not ALEC, not Weingarten, and least of all not Klein!

    • patrickwalsh Says:

      Sean, my brilliant union brother, you need a blog. You are a font of institutional memory at the very hour it is most needed.

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