Corporate Education Reform and the Simpsons

February 5, 2014


All too often during the dreadful and endless Bloomberg years, the cartoon-like reality of the richest guy in New York actually running New York made me feel as if I went to sleep in my city and woke up in an episode of the Simpsons. An episode of the Simpson’s, that is, with the show’s grasp of the absurdity of American life but without its brilliant, cutting wit and customary happy ending. Given the antics of our various non-educator Chancellors of education — Joel Klein, Cathy Black and Dennis Walcott — all doing their best to please the union busting, teacher-hating Bloomberg, this sense was especially keen when it came to anything to do with education.

I am reminded of that sensation this morning by a post by Diane Ravitch, only this time I arises out of a proposal in North Carolina. To wit:

In North Carolina, the top 25% of teachers are eligible to give up due process rights in return for an extra $500 a year.

Can you imagine the level of abject contempt in the person or persons that came up with this?

$500 a year in exchange for due process rights?

And, like the phony exclusivity one is meant to feel at the presense of a velvet rope at some swank club, the offer to surrender the modicum of job security provided by due process is given only to the to 25% of teachers. I’ll give 100 to 1 odds such ranking is based largely if not exclusively on test scores.

“But that’s not all,” as the shill selling ginsu knives or Vegomatic in cheap late night TV commercials used to bellow, “if you call before midnight….”

However, there is a catch, this reader says: “It is $500 a year for 4 years and then back to where you were in 2013-14. You don’t stay at the plus $2,000 in year 5. Also since only the first year is funded local funds will have to be found for years 2, 3 and 4. It’s just the cheese in the trap.”

Cheese in the trap indeed.

Perhaps the authors of the offer were inspired by the creators of Race To the Top( and that would mean the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), insofar as those states who surrendered all manner of rights in an attempt to “win” a relatively paltry amount of life blood cash from the Obama administration’s competition, soon discovered that what they surrendered stayed surrendered whether they “won” the grant or not.

Now that’s what I call a two headed nickel!

Reading these words I recall an episode in the Simpsons where Homer and his work mates try to start a union at the power plant where they work. Evil Mr. Burns, the owner of the power plant (and the Bloomberg figure of the series) provides kegs and kegs of beer for the meeting of the men, hoping to derail them by getting them drunk. Waiting till the men are good and plastered, Burns orchestrates the raising of the question to be decided immediately by a show of hands: what do the men want, health care or another keg of beer?

There is something of that in this insulting and contemptuous “offer.” In fact, lots of it. I trust the good teachers of North Carolina will tell its sponsors where to put it.



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