Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Tilson’

Need a Job ? E4E is Looking For An Excellent Shill

May 19, 2014
Brought to you by Bill Gates, Whitney Tilson, DFER ,   and other super rich lovers of poor American children.

Brought to you by Bill Gates, Whitney Tilson, DFER , and other super rich lovers of poor American children.

Do you have the ability to lie through your teeth without an inkling of remorse ?

Are you immoral enough to labor to undo and undermine the hard earned rights of teachers under the guise of somehow helping them to become better at a job you know nothing about?

Are you shameless enough to parrot the absurd fantasy that E4E was “founded in spring 2010 by two Bronx elementary school teachers “ who then just happened to receive instantaneous and total access to the highest echelons of the world of education, endlessly fawning press and, within a year or two, a multi million dollar budget and offices in several major American cities all because their message is so compelling to teachers?

Do you disrespect yourself and the English language enough to claim that E4E, bankrolled at the moment of conception, indeed, before, by monopolizing monster Bill Gates and Democrats for Education Reform founder Whitney Tilson, exists to highlight “progressive teacher voices? ”

Are you mercenary enough to manipulate the fears and naiveté of young teachers without ever revealing who and what you are really working for?

Are you willing to sell your very soul deforming language and reality to assist in the destruction of one of the most vital institutions of the remains of American democracy?

If the answer to all of these questions is affirmative, then you may well have a luminous future as Director of Communications of Educators 4 Excellence — at least until Bill and Whitney and their pals pull the plug on this elaborate con job at which point it will vanish instantly into thin air.

But for now “ Educators 4 Excellence is entering an expansion phase as it seeks to provide a platform for teachers across the country to elevate their voices.” So, better strike while the money is still rolling in and the ruse is still being bankrolled.

Make sure you watch the video, “This Is Who We Are,” found at the end of the link which features cameos from a couple of ed reform superstars including the epitome of shilldom, former NYC Chancellor of Education Dennis Walcott.

It’s a hoot!

http://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/13675577?trk=eml-jymbii-organic-job-viewjob-link&refId=70ec9c8d-f2a0-4f55-86b1-85d656dfffca

Director of Communications
Educators 4 Excellence – Los Angeles, Illinois, Minneapolis, New York City, or Connecticut with a strong preference for NYC

Job description
For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table: the voice of classroom teachers. Founded in spring 2010 by two Bronx elementary school teachers, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.
E4E envisions a high-quality, prestigious teaching profession that is responsible for driving positive student outcomes. E4E provides teachers opportunities to:
Learn about the latest education policy news and research;
Network with like-minded colleagues and policymakers through panel discussions, speaker series, and networking events; and
Take Action by advocating for teacher-created policy recommendations through E4E’s teacher leadership training programs.
In just a few years, E4E has quickly grown into a national network of over 12,000 progressive teachers, united by the E4E Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs. The work of E4E and E4E teachers has resulted in modifications to legislation on issues such as layoffs and teacher evaluation, the publication of nationally significant teacher-created policy papers, and national and local media attention highlighting progressive teacher voices.
With chapters currently operating in Los Angeles, New York, Connecticut, Chicago, and Minnesota, Educators 4 Excellence is entering an expansion phase as it seeks to provide a platform for teachers across the country to elevate their voices. Grounded in the experience of educators, E4E’s culture revolves around an innovative, entrepreneurial, roll-up-your-sleeves spirit backed by a shared commitment to continuous improvement.
For more information, please visit Educators4Excellence.org.
ABOUT THE POSITION:
This is an exciting opportunity for a mission-driven professional to shape and execute the communication strategy for a high- growth and ever-changing organization that places student achievement first and seeks to elevate the teaching profession.
Reporting to one of the Co-Founders and Co-Chief Executive Officers and serving as an E4E National Team member, the Director of Communications will manage the overall organizational communications strategy and design internal communications systems for Educators 4 Excellence. This includes developing an organization-wide branding, messaging, and media strategy to help E4E be seen as a leading conduit of education policy information and ideas; seeking channels so members’ voices can be heard; and training and coaching chapter staff on messaging. The Director will be the organization’s primary brand ambassador, and will build relationships with the media as part of E4E’s overall efforts to advance relationships with current and prospective members and drive broader awareness of the organization. In collaboration with other national team members and external partners, he/she will also oversee the integration and day-to-day maintenance of E4E’s communications.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Public Relations and Media Relationship-Building
Manage E4E’s relationship with its public relations firm, and work in collaboration to seek and prioritize media opportunities
Enhance E4E’s image through publicity, messaging and publications
Cultivate and manage relationships with local and national media outlets to ensure steady and consistent coverage of the organization, with a priority on helping members share their voices publicly
Communications Strategy Development and Execution
In partnership with senior leaders , develop and implement an integrated strategic communications plan to advance E4E’s brand positioning, broaden awareness of its programs and priorities, and increase the organization’s visibility to current and prospective members along with key stakeholders
Create and ensure cohesion of branded print, Web, and multimedia materials for national and chapter functions
Build, implement and improve internal communications systems and processes
Manage the development and distribution of all print and electronic collateral, including E4E’s weekly membership e-mail and key internal and external communications campaigns
Team and Member Development
Train and coach chapter executive directors and other team members for local media interactions and grassroots communications
Develop and implement a training curriculum to prepare chapter staff and members for media interactions
Work with chapter teams and members to ensure that new and consistent information is posted on E4E’s website and social media platforms – especially teacher-generated content
Eventually build an internal communications team of results-oriented, entrepreneurial, creative thinkers and assume responsibility for their professional growth and development
Desired Skills and Experience
CANDIDATE REQUIREMENTS:
The ideal candidate for this position will have:
Bachelor’s degree
Minimum five years of work experience
Knowledge of and/or experience in education, education policy, community/campaign organizing, communications, and/or advocacy
Experience in planning, writing, editing, and producing high stakes collateral (e.g., newsletters, press releases, annual reports, and marketing)
Demonstrated experience and leadership in managing a complex initiative preferably in a non-profit setting
Excellent written and oral communication skills
Ability to build systems, processes and structures to achieve measurable goals
Proven success in project and vendor management, leveraging time and resources as efficiently and effectively as possible
Appetite for proactively building relationships with reporters and editors, and in successfully positioning subject matter with the media to achieve high-impact placements
Training, facilitation, and/or coaching experience
Experience working with and influencing a wide variety of stakeholders
A track record as an innovative thinker, problem-solver, and communicator, especially in regards to utilizing new media technologies
Moreover, all E4E candidates will have a/an:
Empathy for, understanding of, and respect for the teaching profession; previous classroom teaching experience required
Deep commitment to the values of E4E and passion for students, improving education, and closing the achievement gap
Understanding of education policy and the education reform movement, both locally and nationally
Demonstrated record as both a team player and a self-starter, including exceptional organization and time management skills; a demonstrated ability to design a work plan, prioritize and meet goals; grace under pressure and a good sense of humor; and an innovative spirit
Ability to work non-traditional hours, including weekday evenings and some weekends
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS:
Salary for this position is commensurate with experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included.
Educators 4 Excellence is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes candidates from diverse backgrounds.
About this company
Follow company
For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table: the voice of classroom teachers. Founded in spring 2010 by two Bronx elementary school teachers, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.
E4E envisions a high-quality, prestigious teaching profession that is responsible for driving positive student outcomes. E4E provides teachers opportunities to:
Learn about the latest education policy news and research;
Network with like-minded colleagues and policymakers through panel discussions, speaker series, and networking events; and
Take Action by advocating for teacher-created policy recommendations through E4E’s teacher leadership training programs.
In just a few years, E4E has quickly grown into a national network of over 12,000 progressive teachers, united by the E4E Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs. The work of E4E and E4E teachers has resulted in modifications to legislation on issues such as layoffs and teacher evaluation, the publication of nationally significant teacher-created policy papers, and national and local media attention highlighting progressive teacher voices.
With chapters currently operating in Los Angeles, New York, Connecticut, Chicago, and Minnesota, Educators 4 Excellence is entering an expansion phase as it seeks to provide a platform for teachers across the country to elevate their voices. Grounded in the experience of educators, E4E’s culture revolves around an innovative, entrepreneurial, roll-up-your-sleeves spirit backed by a shared commitment to continuous improvement.
For more information, please visit Educators4Excellence.org.

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Duncan To Marry Common Core Standards

March 13, 2014
Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stunned much of official Washington today when he announced that he plans to legally marry the Common Core State Standards “sometime in the very near future.” Mr. Duncan made his announcement at a press conference in the Rose Garden, surrounded by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Reporters appeared to be momentarily silenced by what many considered the strangeness of the statement but quickly recovered and questioned both the timing of Duncan’s announcement and the authenticity of Duncan’s motives, as well as the legality of the act itself.
Duncan denied that the wedding was a symbolic gesture or a publicity stunt designed
to draw attention away from the volcanic parental rejection of the CCSS across
the country, especially in New York State.

“This is about love, said Duncan, his voice at times cracking with emotion and his eyes appearing to tear. “True and abiding love. And there’s no doubt in my
mind that the love I feel for the Core, the Core
feels for all the children of America, every last one of
them and especially those we want to help close the achievement gap.”

Duncan acknowledged that there are legal challenges in the unprecedented mating of man and document but, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s blessing, is determined to “ break new ground in the civil rights issue of our time.” Duncan links the proposed union to the larger struggle. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times,
education is the civil rights issue of our age. Our marriage is just another Rosa Parks’ moment on our way to helping all of our children become college and career ready.” Duncan, still legally married to Karen Luann Duncan, acknowledged that before the marriage to the Common Core could take place he had to first divorce his current wife. Holder is said to be personally involved in this process which he is prepared to expedite.

Duncan would neither deny nor confirm the rumor that Andrew Cuomo offered the use of the Governors mansion in Albany New York for the ceremony but did acknowledge that Cuomo would be a guest at the wedding.
A press release from the Department of Education revealed that the ceremony would be a gala and star-studded event with guests including Mark Zuckerberg, Wendy Kopp, Randi Weingarten, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Bono, Eli Broad, David Coleman, Rupert Murdoch, John Legend, Jeb Bush, Thomas Friedman, Kid Rock, Bill Keller, Corey Booker, Whitney Tilson, Caroline Kennedy, as well as President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The ceremony will be presided over by President Obama. David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards, will give away the bride. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Educators Association will serve as best man while American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten has agreed to be the maid of honor.

The event will take place in an undisclosed location and will be funded in its entirety by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

—————–

Note: This post is dedicated to the pea-heads in both the DOE and the NYPD who thought it a good idea to throw my courageous friend and colleague Francesco Portelos in jail for 33 hours for writing a piece as silly as this. Good thinking fellas! These are strange and terrifying times in which we dwell and we need more than ever to look after each other.

The Common Core: Putting Corporations First. Always

November 17, 2012

 

There is an old saying that’s been running through my mind quite a bit these days:  “What is good for the goose is  good for the gander.”

Alas, alas…some seem to disagree.

For the past decade American teachers have been in the cross hairs of the most well financed, relentless, and hydra-headed public relations campaign against a legal profession in our history.  Nothing else even comes close. Indeed, I can think of no other formally respected   profession ever so targeted.  Anywhere. At  any time.  This campaign, which masquerades as a movement, was created by  and  is bankrolled  by the richest individuals in the nation and backed by  some of the most powerful political figures in the land under the rubric of education reform.  Most prominent in the former category are Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad and any number of hedge fund managers such as instant education expert   Whitney Tilson, founder of the egregious Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).  Prominent in the latter category are Jeb Bush, Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emmanuel and Barack Obama. Despite such powerful figures,  the campaign likes to present itself not merely as a movement  but as  a grass roots movement, spontaneously erupting like a long simmering volcano, it’s gases escaping from the magma chambers of the American educational earth.

Three Friends

The campaign is masterful at the creation and propagation of demands and the dissemination of lies, deceptions and false accusations.  Central to the campaign is the idea of teacher accountability. Indeed, the campaigners want to hold teachers accountable for their student “a performance”, a performance  measured in large part by highly unreliable high stakes tests.

What follows are a few of their most insidious and blatantly false claims:

Poverty is an excuse and is no obstacle to student achievement.

Tenure guarantees a teacher a job for life.

Standardized tests are true indicators of a quality education and quality teachers.

The real problem with schools is that selfish teachers and their thuggish unions   are forever putting their interests over the children they are charged to serve.

 

Of all the lies hurled at teachers ad infinitum, none is more repugnant and underhanded than the last and none gets more mileage by the messianic corporate reformers. It  carries within it, albeit in embryonic form, the zero sum ideology of   corporate education reform: it is somehow impossible to reach an accord in which    both teacher and student are treated fairly and with dignity.  For these folks, one side must dominate the other. That’s simply how life is, you see.

(The fact that the charge of teacher selfishness emanates from billionaires and hedge-fund managers is completely congruent with the surreal nature of the entire corporate education campaign in which the least knowledgeable and experienced are somehow, mystically, the most qualified, the most insightful as well as the most concerned.  )

This particular lie has been perhaps most effectively (because unconsciously) propagated in the very   names of any number of reform organizations: names that in many ways serve as accusations in and of themselves.  What conclusion can one draw from an organization that calls itself Children First Network ?  Or  Students First. Org ? Or Stand For Children ?   What conclusion other than someone  ( psssssssss… hint: teachers )  or something ( psssssssss…  hint:  teacher’s  unions ) out there is putting these poor kids last ?

Then there is the masterful motto of the New York City Department of   Education:  “ Children First. Always.”

Except, it seems, when tending to the needs of corporations like Pearson and their  (equally misleadingly named ) Common Core State Standards, currently  being presented to the nation as the panacea to all that ails American education.

Not to mention the millions of dollars to be made in the production and sale of Common Core based tests, Common Core Text books, Common Core guides, and Common Core learning aids and accessories of every conceivable (and inconceivable) kind.

But there is a problem in paradise.

Somehow in the frenzied production of all these Common Core based paraphernalia, both city and state failed to insure the production of the element most essential to the possibility of the Common Core having any kind of real educational success.      Somehow both city and state failed to produce a curriculum.  It is difficult to overestimate how grand a failure this is.

Imagine, for example, someone trying to sell you a car with a speedometer but no engine.

In the place of a curriculum, New York City and  New York State   have offered teachers and administrators  the Common Core Standards and sample “bundles”,   implying that said standards,  said “bundles,” and curriculum are more or less the same thing, an error that no one even vaguely knowledgeable in or concerned with education would ever make, not to  mention those determined to “put kids first.”

This is, of course,  one of the many problems with allowing people with little no educational experience  — think Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Dennis Walcott — to completely remake  an education system.

But, in typical fashion,  it has become the problem, not of those who created it but those who must deal with it.  That is to say, teachers.   For New York City and New York State, the solution to their failure to provide curriculum for their teachers is to have teachers write curriculum.   No matter that it is not the responsibility of teachers to write curriculum. (Teachers are meant to write lesson plans from curriculum not lesson plans and curriculum. )  No matter that most teachers most have no idea of how to write curriculum. No matter that teachers are not contractually obliged to write curriculum. (The issue is now in arbitration at the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB.)   No matter that teachers have never even seen the test that they are to somehow, magically, write curriculum to prepare their student for. So what if 17,00 New York City schools produce 17,00 different curricula, hodge-podged together by people who have no business doing anything but teaching.   So what if the third to eighth grade tests administered in March will be up to two grade levels more difficult than anything the students or their teachers have ever seen before.

So what that the New York State Department of Education knowingly decided that millions of  children will be forced to take Common Core based high stakes tests of which many haven’t a prayer of passing. So what if this unconscionable incompetence leads directly to demoralizing millions of kids.  So what if the same test scores are used to evaluate teachers, principals, and schools and may be used to terminate the former and close the latter.

The imperative, it seems clear, is to ram the unproven, untested, unknown entity called   Common Core State Standards into the very center of the educational lives of these   kids and their teachers as fast as possible, ready or not. Now.  Before it’s too late. There’s not a moment to spare.

Let the chips fall where they may.

After all, hasn’t Arne Duncan spent the last four years criss-crossing the country  enlightening all to the notion that  “education is the civil rights issue of our time?” Didn’t Condoleezza Rice declare at the Republican National Convention that education is now a matter of national security?

Seen in those glaring lights,  the absence of a curriculem seems almost petty.

On the other hand, on what planet can this kind of educational malfeasance be considered   “putting children first?” And what about that tricky issue of accountability? Who is responsible for this ?  How is it possible that a screw –up of this magnitude is allowed to go by not merely without heads rolling, but   without barely   a peep in the press?   Where are the hedge funders weeping copious tears for the poor children now?  Where are the apostles of accountability with this travesty?

The larger question, of course, is what is the priority here?  It is kids or corporations?  Is it to help make kids “college or career ready” so as to compete in the ever more savage global economy?  Or is it to shovel millions of taxpayer dollars to Pearson and associates   on Common Core accessories before most people even know what Common Core is?

“ We’ve been working really hard around Common Core, said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whose educational experience consists of one year teaching kindergarten.     “We’ve been really light years ahead of the rest of the state in terms of the implementation of Common Core but at the same time, we’re ready for the new curriculum to be put in place as well.”   Asked when that might be, Walcott replied, “I don’t know.  I’ll let you know.”   That was last month.

He taught kindergarten for a year or so a couple of decades back.

So much for putting children first.  So much for  accountability.

By way of excusing the inevitable results of this  farce, Walcott added:  “We’ve said that we expect scores to go down.  We just don’t know to what level.  I mean, this is going to be a tough, tough test.”

I’ll say. And it’s hard cheese, old chap!

State Education Commissioner John King (whose educational experience consists of teaching for three years) at least provided an answer if a completely unacceptable one.  The curriculum will be ready “by Fall, winter 2013, said King.

John King who taught for three years.

Why is the media not all over this?  Where are all those concerned faces found on Education Nation? Why is this not considered a major scandal by all of those pundits forever gasbagging  about  selfish unions and the holy efficiency  of the business world ?

The absence of criticism is understandable but not excusable.  It is understandable because both the people running the school system and those commenting on those running the school system have no idea   what they are talking about and could easily believe a standard is a curriculum.  Why wouldn’t they?  Many seem to believe that closing down schools and mass firings of teachers are somehow great accomplishments.

My fear, bordering on absolute certainty, is that no matter what the real pedagogical value of the Common Core actually is, it will be declared a success. Indeed, it has already been declared so. Unique among federal impositions, contrary to common sense or common decency,  there has been no attempt to field-test the Common Core.  It is   assumed ready to go on arrival.  Even, apparently,  without a curriculum.

What we are witnessing here is the slow motion creation of a system that is built to be too big to fail.  It is built to be too big to fail because there is simply too much money to be made in its implementation.  Millions and millions on tests alone.  It will generate more tests than have ever been seen before on planet earth.  That is not hyperbole.  Because of Common Core, writes Diane Ravitch, “Our children shall eat, live and breathe tests, from birth to the end of their education.”

If nothing else the Common Core  is a virtual industry on a scale hitherto unknown in American education. We have seen this before, of course in other fields.   We have seen it with Goldman Sachs or Fannie Mae or any number  of colossi, too big to fail operations that failed anyway and almost brought the entire world  down with them.  We have just never seen this kind of thing   in education before.  But then, ours is a time in which there are many, many things we have never seen in education before.

As I write the Common Core is being used to  lead  children to slaughter.  Right behind them are the reputations of teachers and principals and entire schools. If you wish to see the abject contempt in which corporate reformers and their employees in elected office hold our children and our families look no further.   If you wish to see children being put very far behind immense corporate profits, look here.  If you want to see the opposite of accountability, you’ve come to the right place.

It is a place where what is good for the goose is very, very good indeed for this goose is a very, very golden goose.

And never you mind the gander.

In Darkness Visible: The Corporate and Oligarchic War on Public Education and Public Life

September 24, 2011

 

 

Given the unprecedented concentration of financial and political power bent on “reforming” the American public school system, it is well within the realm of possibility that within the next few years, the system that has educated the vast majority of Americans for almost two centuries and helped propel this country from an agricultural backwater to, for better or worse, the greatest power in human history,  will cease to exist in any recognizable form if, indeed,  it exists at all.

That same system, according to self declared “reformers,” is now so utterly hopeless it must be completely altered or eradicated altogether. Now.  Before it is too late. There is not a moment to lose.  Not if,  in the bizarre words of   Barack Obama, “we are  to win the future.”   If the “reformers” get their way, the crown jewel of American public life will become merely the latest and the greatest of our public institutions to be devoured by the ever-grasping hands of what is called the free market.  If this comes to pass, the system’s destruction or utter transformation will come, not as the result of an election, an uprising of the people, a revolt of parents (who, like educators have been completely ignored) or anything resembling a democratic process or mandate. It will come, rather, as did the Iraq war: entirely as the result of the machinations of a handful of extraordinarily powerful men who,  aided and abetted by corporations who stand to reap billions in profits, waged a brilliant and relentless public relations campaign based on gross distortions and out -right lies to manufacture a false sense of crisis wholly out of proportion to the reality of the situation.

With the indispensable assistance of a completely subservient  media,  that  false crisis was used to impose their will upon a largely unwitting nation, come what may. Their will, as we now know, was war and profit, resulting in mountains of corpses and rivers of innocent blood.

Like the architects of the Iraq war, the “education reformers” are also waging a war, albeit one without bullets and bombs, and many,  if not all of the “reformers”, are also seeking an empire: publishing tests for an entire nation or charter schools chains or  cyber classrooms or who knows what federally approved and funded education booty.

Highlighting our nation’s rapid descent  into undisguised oligarchy, unlike the architects of the Iraq war, most of whom were at least government officials and theoretically accountable to the American people, the architects of  the education war – and a war it is — are private citizens accountable to no one and possessing no official authority whatsoever.   This fact is that much more incredible when these very figures make “accountability” the touchstone of their relentless hydra -headed multi million dollar campaign. These citizens are led by Microsoft co- founder Bill Gates, real estate and insurance tycoon, Eli Broad, the Walton family, heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune, and the De Vos family, heirs of the Amway fortune, to name just a few.

These folk have been joined in New York by various hedge fund managers led by Whitney Tilson who have formed a powerful political action committee called Democrats For Education Reform  ( DFER ) who are credited with successfully   lobbying President-Elect Obama to name Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education despite Duncan’s  miserable  record as Chicago CEO of schools.

Despite the fact that not one of them has spent even 30 seconds teaching in a classroom or have any educational experience of any kind anywhere, all of the above fancy themselves “education reformers. ”

No matter.

They know better.   And, using their expanding body of foundations, they have spent a good part of the last decade “reforming” education and essentially making public policy.   More,  they know how to get their way and how to do so before  the public  knows what’s happening or, with the exception of Gates, even knows their names.

This has been done largely through non-profit organizations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edyith Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation that have enormous reach and influence in the highest offices in the land. Indeed, the Gates Foundation is credited with literally writing much if not all of  the Obama administrations signature education initiative Race To The Top ( RTTP)  – easily the greatest legislative attack on teachers in US history at the same time its undemocratic agenda undermines the entire purpose of public  education.

Races have winner and losers. Public education should not.

Last year, amidst great fanfare, it was announced on the Oprah Winfry Show that multi-billionaire Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg would be   joining the pool of fabulously rich amateur education reformers. Live on TV Zuckerberg announced that would  donate $100 million to the Newark public schools but failed to add the provision that, he,  Zuckerberg, would play a big role in determining Newark school policy.

Despite their complete ignorance of the field, the self- proclaimed “education reformers” believe that their spectacular wealth gives them the right to dictate to or experiment with public educational policy affecting millions of other people’s children, the livelihoods of millions  of teachers, and the intellectual health of our nation for decades to come.  Such staggering hubris is difficult to comprehend but even more  so is  the fact that these private citizens have, in fact, been given license by our elected officials to   re-make   education in America   in their own image.  No less an authority than former Assistant Secretary of Education author Diane Ravich has called Gates, “  the nation’s superintendent of schools.” Ravich was issuing a warning:  we have drifted neck deep into oligarchy while  few are  even remotely aware of it.

To my knowledge, such a usurpation of public authority by private citizens allowed by our  government is unprecedented. But then again, many of the circumstances surrounding the corporate education “reform” campaign are unprecedented. Never before in American history have there  been hundreds of billionaires.  Never before has there been this level of the disparity between wealth  and poverty. Never before has the media been so concentrated in so few hands, so omnipresent and so nakedly ideological. Never before have the influence and the rights (!)  of  corporations been so great and our elected  officials  so spinelessly beholden to them.

The education  the “reformers” wish to  implement  bear only superficial  resemblance to what most of us have  experienced. In place of the public school system may be a privately managed but publicly funded system administered by non-educators and run along the lines of a corporate business. This is the charter school model, a favorite among hedge fund managers because of their potential  profit  margin, and also of the Obama administration.     Charter chains  are already spreading across the country. On average, most fare no better than traditional public schools and many are abysmal — facts you’d never discern from their corporate cheerleaders.

Or the new system may be one based on “distance learning” in which hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of students will sit in virtual classrooms, (meaning their homes,) receiving instruction from a virtual teacher (or perhaps teacher holograms) on a computer screen only to take an on-line test on the subject to assess their learning.  None other than Rupert Murdoch, yet another towering education figure, is attempting to spearhead this campaign internationally added  and abetted  by none other than former NYC Chancellor  Joel Klein.

This latter example contains two of the more subtle and horrifying  motifs  of the reformer narrative. The first is that technology is  always  superior to humanity and always progressive.  The   second is that the teacher/ student relationship  that  has existed since the time of Socrates is of  little import and can  easily be negated.

The common denominator of both the war in Iraq and the war of education is mountains of money. The federal budget for education is some $360 billion per annum.  Education may well be the last untapped market in America.   Employing the same  strategy  the Bush administration used to terrify Americans into invading Iraq,  the “reformers” and their allies in Washington and state capitals across  the land, have also taken a problem — abysmal student achievement in poor urban areas, or alternatively their fear of America’s future ability to compete with other nations in the increasingly cannibalistic global economy — and out of it also manufactured a sense of crisis wholly out of proportion to reality.

The issues in urban schools are real, depressing and persistent.  As real and depressing and persistent  as homelessness, fractured families, and every kind of poverty imaginable.  No teacher who has ever labored in such schools would ever deny that they are in need of urgent, radical and true reform and more than reform.  They need help.  I am one such teacher. We would begin by emphasize the two factors that study after study has concluded are essential to learning and which are contemptuously ignored by the “reformers”:  smaller class size and proper nutrition and move on from there to a real and rich curriculum.

Although you would never know it from the “reformer’s” relentless smear campaigns  which have cleverly posited the absolute worst public schools in America as the norm, many urban public schools  ones are excellent. I know.  My daughter attends one — the Neighborhood School, on the Lower East Side. Moreover, I, for one, do not need stratospheric test scores to know that the school is excellent or that my daughter is learning.  Indeed, I am deeply insulted by the conceit that my child’s learning or any child’s learning can somehow be judged by a test.

And I am not alone.

I am that much the more insulted by the notion that her performance on that test is somehow an indicator of the quality of her teacher who can lose his or her job because of the result of such a superficial experiment.  And these experiments, mind you,   have no proven educational merit whatsoever, yet form the center of the “reform” campaign from coast to coast.

Wherever you find “reform” you find standardized tests.  More and more and more standardized tests.  Indeed, perhaps the greatest measure of the striking success of the “reformers” to this point is the almost unquestioned centrality of the standardized test as criteria for measuring everything to do with education  and educators in America today.  It appears that the test has been thoroughly institutionalized, an astounding victory for the “reformers” and one on which their entire campaign rests.  That  such tests have no proven validity as   educational assessment tools is perhaps the greatest example of the sheer recklessness, ignorance and hubris of the “reformers ” – but also of their  success.   But  it should be noted that reformers never subject their children to such degrading examinations for they do  not exist in the schools their children attend.

The turning point for the “reform” campaign  as we know it today was the passing of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002, which absurdly mandated that literally every child in America must reach “proficiency” in reading and math by the year 2014.   Schools that failed to reach  such an impossible goal – now estimated at more than 80% of American schools —  would face hard sanctions including the firing of staff, removal  of   administration or closure and replacement by charter schools. The criteria for “proficiency “, of course, is the standardized tests which, with the stroke of a pen, overnight became a billion dollar industry that has been expanding exponentially ever since.

NCLB is easily the most ill conceived education law ever passed by the Federal government or perhaps anyone state agency in the history of the United States. It is  American Exceptionalism applied to the schoolhouse; American  students will do what has never been done in human history because they are American. Period.

It is a testament to the idiocy or mendacity of our political leaders that such a preposterous idea could even be taken seriously never mind encoded in law.    Nearly a decade into being, the goals demanded by NCLB have recently been called “utopian ” even by figures such as Arne Duncan, Obama’s ultra “reformer” Secretary of Education. It is more accurate, I believe, to call them insane.  Nonetheless, after a decade of pointless, destructive upheaval and waste, sullied by cheating scandals in Baltimore, Washington,   Atlanta and elsewhere, the law stands, respected by no one, loathed by educators across the land, slowly but surely undermining parental confidence in the public school system and demoralizing teachers from sea to shining sea.  In the context of all that has gone down in the  “reformer” campaign, that may, indeed, have been the point.

It is difficult to calculate the damage this ridiculous, irresponsible law has done and continues to do to the American school system and hence American children.  NCLB is singularly responsible for the shrinking down of public education to the skill sets needed to pass bubble tests in math and reading.   After nearly ten years of parents and educators lamenting and protesting the pathetic diet that has been foisted on their children and students and children – a diet that would never be found in any of the private schools attended by the children of NCLB’s authors – the Obama administration has answered by offering even more tests in more subject areas.

Somehow, with the passing of NCLB  all prior assessment methods – writing samples, the quality of a students questions, essays, homework, quizzes, book reports and so on — become “subjective”, suspect, and invalid.  There is another tacit message of the law: teachers are not to be trusted.  With little if any discussion or input from educators or parents, at least a century of pedagogical wisdom and practice was simply tossed out the window by a handful of politicians and their billionaire  backers.    Out that same window went teacher  autonomy and with that goes the still born imaginations of millions and millions of  American kids  who are learning that to repeat is to think.

I find such tests infinitely more than a scam. I find them an insult to human dignity.   I do not need an external mass-produced mechanism to know if my daughter is learning or if her teacher is teaching.  Like any thoughtful and observant parent I can walk the halls of her school, looking and listening, and learn more than any bubble test could ever reveal about her   school.  Most importantly, I can talk with my daughter. Or she can read to me.

Knowing nothing about education, “the reformers,” naturally, have an almost pathetic reliance on tests and tests scores, (or “data” as they often call such giving it a pseudo scientific sheen) always proceeding as if such things are actually objective and reliable indicators of anything other than the ability to take a test. Even worse, by their obsession with standardized tests, these bold advocates of the brave new world are aggrandizing rote learning and simple memorization, useless skills made all the more useless by a computerized world in which information of any kind can be called up in seconds.

Meanwhile, mandated by the federal government and pushed further  still by Obama’s RTTT   (“ called NCLB on steroids” ) the testing empire has expanded beyond all reason, much to the delight of the test making corporations which have made billions and look to make billions more every year as tests are written for every school in every town in every nook and cranny in America.

While the motivations and strategies of the various  “reformers” may differ widely, all  share common ground.

Above all all seek the destruction of teacher’s unions, which remain the only obstacle to their complete takeover of public education.  Contrary to all evidence, they blame unions for “failing schools”  and for protecting “bad teachers” with “ jobs for life”, the latter  which is their code for due process.

“  It is very, very important to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time, “ stated Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter incoherently in Waiting for Superman:  “Teachers are great, a national treasure. Teacher unions, are,  generally speaking,  a menace and an impediment to reform.”

Alter is right about unions being an impediment to free market reform which is why so much time and money is being spent to undermine them. What Alter fails to mentions is that Finland, the highest performing nation in the world in education, as well as the highest performing state in the USA, Massachusetts are both totally unionized whereas  the lowest , Texas and  Mississippi. are “right to work”  states.

All are advocates of the contemptuously superficial method of   standardized testing to measure not only student learning but also “teacher effectiveness,” neither of which  is  backed by research of any kind.

All completely remove responsibility for student achievement from students and place it exclusively on teachers, regardless of student motivation, aptitude or  family support.

All display an astounding arrogance in discounting  factors such as poverty, broken homes and cultural impoverishment on student learning.  These horrific realities are merely  “excuses” that can be overcome by an “effective” teacher.

All are strict practitioners of a little known radical new form of philanthropy called “philanthrocapitalism” or “venture philanthropy” which, differing from traditional philanthropy   is based on the practices  of venture capital finance in which money is given only if the giver can dictate exactly how it is used.

All have given millions in venture philanthropy schemes in which, essentially, they purchase a license to make public policy.

All have backed and financed ideas that have dominated American public education policy for a decade now – merit pay, mayoral control, and charter schools to name a few,  all of which have produced no demonstrable improvements whatsoever in education but have succeeded in turning teachers against teachers and  thus weakening  their unions.

All posit an almost Manichean universe of angelic children with virtually limitless possibilities thwarted by lazy, union protected teachers or, alternatively saved by messianic charter school teachers.

All grossly magnify both the power of the teacher’s unions, all of whom on the defensive, and the failings of public schools (conflating the worst of urban schools with the rest  of America ) while grossly exaggerating the success of charter schools which, on average perform no better than district schools and often much worse.  (For the most skillful rendering of this line, see the shameless Davis Guggenheim weepy propaganda film, Waiting for Superman.

Other full length ‘reformer” films include, The Lottery, and The Cartel.

All are absolutely brilliant at deflecting attention away from the true nature and causes of the decline of America—such as jobs disappearing either  through globalization or technology  or a constant stream of  wealth upwards —     and somehow thrusting   it  on teachers, implying  that all would be  well  with the universe if only we could fire “bad teachers.”

Men like Gates like to point out that American students are falling behind other nations in international test scores, but, again, as Diane Ravich has recently pointed out, this is simply untrue.   When the first international test was given in 1964, the United States scored 12th out of 12 and has actually gotten better since.  But so what?    Anyone who is implying, as Gates and company often seem to be, that America has been outsourcing jobs to third world nations because US citizens have low test scores and not because they can pay people subsistence wages elsewhere is either delusional or a liar.

Indeed, for all their futuristic/technopolist talk, much of the “reformer’s” rationales are strangely reminiscent of   attacks on public schools in the wake of Sputnik.  Then as now critics also delivered apocalyptic warnings of a nation void of competent mathematicians, scientists and engineers as if, presently at least in the case of the latter, our bridges and infrastructure are  crumbling beneath our feet   not because of disastrous public policy but because “bad teachers” failed to produce enough engineers to fix them.

On May 21, 2011, The New York Times revealed another aspect of the reformers, in this case The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but one shared by many of them,  that was oddly reminiscent of a phenomenon not seen since the Cold War:  the secret massive funding of what were once called “Fifth Columns. ”  Defined by Merriam-Webster as  “a group of secret sympathizers or supporters of an enemy that engage in espionage or sabotage within defense lines or national borders, “the Times detailed countless examples of Gates funded reformer versions of the same: secretly funded phony “grass roots” organizations led by teachers or parents ( some unwitting ) created either to undermine already existing authentic organizations or insidiously push the “reformers” agenda through newly formed groups that claimed to have formed spontaneously.  The groups  did all they could to hide any connection with their patron.

According to the Times, the Gates foundation spent $78 million dollars on countless such “grass roots organizations “ from coast to coast in 2009 alone, the last year its tax returns are available. Sometime in the fall of 2010, precisely such a group surfaced in New York and was immediately granted excessive media attention, all of it fawning, all of it preposterously out of proportion to its message and its miniscule membership which amounts to less than 1% of NYC teachers.  Calling themselves Educators 4 Excellence and formed by two 25-year-old untenured teachers, the organization perfectly parrots every demand of Mike Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Eli Broad and company in terms of seniority, teacher evaluations, due process and so on.

Like them, they also claim  to be doing so to” put children first.” The Times reported that the Gates Foundation had given the group $160,000, allowing the two founding members to work one day a week as F status teachers to give them ample time to tell actual teachers how best to do their job, run their lives and, above all,  “put children first. “  More recently, a teacher blogger looked up their tax records to discover that Educators 4 Excellence expect to raise  almost $ 2,000,000 in their first two  years of existence. You can bet that not one penny of that blood money is coming from   teachers.

Like their counterparts in the criminal invasion of  Iraq, the “reformers”   have also enjoyed the benefits of a completely compliant and uncritical corporate media that has proved itself  more than happy to disseminate their lies, half truths and distortions through out the land.   This time around they speak not to a nation fearful of a sudden attack but to an increasingly impoverished, frightened and anxious citizenry eager for something or someone to blame for their slow but palpable descent into a life of ceaseless debt and insecurity.  How did this happen in America?   Someone must be to blame for ruining the country.

The “reformers”  and their allies in the press  — David Brooks, Thomas Freidman, Jonathan Alter, and Steven Brill stand out for any number of imbecilic statements – are only too happy to supply such a scapegoat.

And so they have.

It is not the predatory corporate consumer culture designed to attack our children at the birth of consciousness and wed their still unformed identities with products that is the problem. It is not the ravages of globalization that have  shipped our manufacturing base and industrial jobs to any country with de facto slave labor and no environmental laws. It is not the predatory nature of   deregulated capitalism that has sent rents and housing prices soaring through   insane speculation following  the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.  It is not even the lying  politicians who orchestrated the invasions of two countries at the cost of a trillion dollars  at the same time they gave corporations and the investor class  immense tax cuts, effectively  bankrupting America for  generations laying the groundwork of  a “dept crisis” that would be used to gut every school and public program in the land at the same time it made public life more and more public life dependent of the  whims of  billionaires who would use the moment to impose their will.

None of these are  the problem.  The problem is  teachers.     Not all teachers mind you, but “bad teachers.”  Particularly “bad teachers” protected by the all-powerful teacher’s union.  So goes the narrative. I have observed   its success in many parts of the country.  The appeal, of  course, is  psychological  rather than rational, but it is powerful none the less and it is the logical result of  a ceaseless and highly skilled public relations campaign.

I have witnessed the results of politically motivated public relations campaigns before concerning individuals — most notably the subtle transformation of Ronald Reagan from the dolt who left office with abysmal approval ratings amidst the stink of the Iran-Contra scandal to the all knowing political deity we are now all meant to love.   Still, never in my life have I seen or even read of an attack on a profession –previously honored profession – in anyway resembling the relentless, subtle, and underhanded campaign that has in the past three years been waged against teachers and is meant to transform them in the public mind from noble, hardworking  public servants deserving of more money and more respect to rapacious pigs at the public trough ruining the nation’s youth while bankrupting its coffers to boot.

Who knew ?

The greatest argument for the need for comprehensive education reform  — true, deep, meaningful reform  — allowing this country to produce students capable not merely of finding gainful employment and parroting facts but of critical thinking, of cultural and historical awareness, of making the informed decision without which democracy withers and dies –– is that corporate businessmen have been allowed to not only   dominate the discussion for the last decade, but to ram into existence completely unproven and superficial schema like standardized tests.  Only in a nation so poorly educated as to be   philosophically barren could such a sad and pathetic notion be entertained never mind encoded in law and implemented.

If the   self-proclaimed “reformers” triumph, what they will force into being will be wholly unrecognizable from what any of us experienced as education and it will not be an improvement.  But it will also be much, much more.   It will, in one fell swoop, drastically further the corporatization  of American life at the same time it will deliver a massive blow against remaining public institutions, creating the precedence for vital institutions like  as Social   Security and Medicare to be privatized and hostage to the vagaries of an increasingly insatiable  Wall St.  Moreover, as the teachers unions remain the largest unions standing in America, it will deal a deathblow to unionism not seen since   the Homestead strike of 1890 which rendered unions none  existent for  decades.  The destruction of the teachers unions would be the culmination of the corporate war on labor which  began in earnest with Reagan’s firing of the air traffic  controllers in 1980 and has been accelerating ever since.

In short, it is vital to understand that the “education reform” campaign is not merely or even primarily  about “reforming “ schools but about “reforming” American sensibility itself.  It is about  ridding us of any quaint notions of fraternity, community,  public life, worker rights and everything and anything that may interfere with the ever increasing demands of an increasingly authoritarian globalized  economy especially of any notions that we are, at least nominally, a   democracy.  Ultimately, “education reform” is about a radical rearrangement of American values, a radical re-education – read diminution — of what it means to be a citizen and in the end, a human being. ( Nor is this onslaught limited to these shores.  To get an idea of how deeply interconnected education reform is with the creation of a permanent global underclass read Lois Weiner’s and Mary Compton’s excellent and terrifying collection,  The Global Assault on Teaching, Teachers, and their Unions: Stories for Resistance )

The assault is about the same process of shrinking consciousness one encounters in all aspects of the reformers beloved standardized test.  In it, a corporate employee asks a question and provides four answers for a student to pick. A  correct pick signifies intelligence and learning. The incorrect pick  signifies a bad teacher.    Such is education in the corporate universe.

Education reform  is about inculcating  the corporate values of efficiency, consumption and ceaseless competition in each and every one of us;  it is about incubating our young to such a debased creed before they can comprehend what is even happening to them.

It is about the cynical starvation of public life and the asphyxiation of democracy. It is about a massive and insidious assault on human dignity and human decency:  none-things is a universe where everything that is  anything can be quantified and everything that is  quantified  is a commodity —  including our children.

In the beginning of his 17th c. opus Paradise  Lost, the poet John Milton described hell  as a place of

No light; but rather darkness visible.

Such darkness is now all around us and increasingly within us. We see it and are blind to it at the same time. We make ourselves blind to it because it is terrifying.   Giving the current state of America, how could it not be otherwise? Still, Americans must come to understand the centrality  of that darkness in the the war on public education.  More, American must come to understand  that this is  a war on democracy itself waged, in guerilla fashion, by an unprecedented coalition of the richest, most ruthless and most politically powerful people in the country whose rapacity and contempt for the likes of us and law itself are boundless.

It seems to me that our choices are few.  Doing nothing is not an option and waiting for Superman is an infantile fantasy.  We must act with intelligence and courage and build coalitions of the like that have never before been imagined.  We have no choice.    If we fail to act and act now the current day America, where 1% of the people somehow own 40% of the nation’s wealth, where the poverty level is exploding and the middle class going the way of the dinosaur, where more and more people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth,  will someday soon seem like days of wine and roses.

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Addendum: an excerpt from this essay will appear in the October – September issue of The Catholic  Worker newspaper.  I will be speaking on another aspect of corporate  education reform on September 30, 2011 as part of the Friday Night Meeting series of  The Catholic Worker.  My talk is titled The Intellectual and Spiritual Price of Corporate Education Reform.

Friday Night Meetings are held at Maryhouse located at 55East Third Street between First and Second Ave very close to the 2nd Ave F subway stop or the Broadway/Lafayette   stop on the  4, 5, or 6  trains.  Their number is  212 777 9617. The talk will begin at 7:45 and will be followed by a question and answer period in which all are encouraged to participate.


Educators 4 Excellence: Brought to You by the Insidious Arm of the Disgustingly Rich

January 29, 2011
Brought to you by Bill Gates and and a whole host of hedge fund managers !

Brought to you by Bill Gates and and a whole host of hedge fund managers !

After a bit of pondering, I’ve concluded that from the list of cynical, disingenuous, insidious and astoundingly arrogant characters that make up the relentless billionaire backed hydra-headed campaign to privatize American public education, few are more cynical, disingenuous, insidious and astoundingly arrogant than Mr. Evan Stone and Ms. Sydney Morris, the two 25 year old teachers who founded and front Educators 4 Excellence (or E4E), a recent recipient of a $160,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and so much more. Gates, as anyone paying attention to the issue can attest, is the self-appointed de facto national education policy maker and as such he would top the list referred to above.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2011 Stone and Morris and their eight month old organization were the subject of not merely a luminous article but also a positively worshipful editorial (“ Teachers For Excellence” ) in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

All that was missing was an audio of heavy breathing. But who knows what next week will bring.

The Post was only the latest in a long line of major media attention this bold young lion and lioness have garnered. They’ve been praised in The Wall Street Journal and all but genuflected to on Fox’s Varney and Company. This virtual shill convention must be seen to be believed. On it Stone not only compares himself to the founders of the United Federation of Teachers who risked their jobs and pensions to build the union this man is being paid to discredit but Varney and another talking head go much further: they liken Stone to the founders of American unionism itself, repeatedly referring to him and his front group as “ revolutionary.” The entire preposterous dialogue is entirely scripted and vehemently anti union.

Throughout it all, Stone humbly accepts this absurd comparisons and praise, oblivious to the fact that real fathers of unionism — men such as the Molly Maguires — would have hung the likes of corporate shills like Evan Stone from the nearest and highest tree.

It gets weirder: Despite the fact that he’s been teaching for three years (and has a completely unremarkable record at that) Mr. Stone was invited to sit on an education policy panel featuring the brilliant Diane Ravitch and then-Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky (currently employed as Cathy Black’s brain.) Then there’s the elevated crowd they’re suddenly hob-knobbing with, not to mention and the A List funding their work has inspired.

Helping Gates help E4E is a Who’s Who of the corporate education reform campaign, which, like the Tea Party, is a billionaire backed media effort passing itself off as a “grassroots” “movement. ” Among the prime movers of the E4E arm of the movement are John Sabat of mega hedge fund, SAC Capital, John Petry of Gotham Capital, and Whitney Tilson’s omnipresent front group, Education Reform Now and Democrats For Education Reform

And these are the only one’s I’ve been able to find out about.

And just who are this wunderkind who have created ex nihilo “a powerful group of teachers more concerned with kid’s futures than the fine print of their labor contract? ” Who are these youngsters “ giving parents new hope and making leaders of their union sweat. “? What exactly are they doing that’s causing all this excitement and raising all this money – not mention the sweat?

Fearless Leaders

Fearless Leaders

Have they created some wonderful new pedagogic method that will help our children grasp the fundamentals of math and science?

Are they proposing some revolutionary teaching method that will explain to students why the USA has the greatest disparity of wealth and poverty in the Western World?

Are they teaching their charges how to feed themselves in a world without work?

Are they for standing up to the billion dollar corporate scam that is the standardized test industry?

Are they horrified at an education so impoverished that is renders our children culturally illiterate?

Are they incensed at the state of an education policy that leaves our children virtually defenseless against an increasingly predatory pop culture?

Are they bucking the ever-metastasizing corporate hijacking of every aspect of reality including our schools systems?

No, no, no.

Nothing like that for these mavericks. Like the motto of Bloomberg’s DOE, the concern of E4E is
“ putting children first.”

Oh.

In fact, that collection of words somewhat approximating a thought is all over E4E’s website, a website bearing the greatest collection of platitudes I’ve seen in a long, long time. Check it out for your self ! It’s a scream!

E4E are also deeply concerned about the prestige of the teaching profession and, while they don’t come right out and say it, more than a little embarrassed by some of the union protected scumbags they work with who very clearly do not put children first. Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris want these parasites out and “good teachers” in. And who can blame them? And after teaching for a full three years who can possibly question their judgment? Who dare?

Revealing the same totalitarian impulse shared by some of their backers and many cults, the site also implores you to sign a pledge that you agree to E4E’s “principles. “

The major principle of E4E upon which all other principles rest, of course, is putting the children first. The insinuation, of course, (their only identifiable talent appears to be insinuating) is that that everyone who is not in E4E is putting kids somewhere else. Again, who can question their judgment?

E4E also wants to “ have a voice in the creation of polices that affect their profession and affect their students.”

Well, who doesn’t?

But wouldn’t that mean you actually knew something about the field you wish to affect?
And wouldn’t such knowledge take time and experience to accrue? And don’t you already have a union representing these very things? A union, like all unions in the USA that is being attacked from all side and at times?

I’d like to believe that anyone entering a field as complex, as nuanced, and as unpredictable as education would have at least a little humility – at least until you have some idea of what you’re doing. Humility, after all, is what allows you to learn.

Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris, mind you, have both been unremarkable teachers for three years. This last year they have apparently worked but one day a week.

Yet, somehow they know all the answers. They don’t actually say they have all the answers. As I stated above, like everything else they do, they insinuate that they have all the answers.

Allow me to repeat something: Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris have been full time teachers for three years.

I may be wrong but they seem to be demanding the right to negotiate their contract and to do so not through the UFT but somehow around the UFT — the same UFT that provides them with every protection and benefit they have. They seem to be demanding nothing short of a seat at the table.

The big, big table.

And they seem to be demanding it for no other reason than to surrender everything the good and brave men and women fought for, everything good and brave men and women risked creating a union so that fools such as themselves might be treated as professionals and have some dignity.

Wow.

Even in an age as demented as is ours, does something about these two people and this organization strike you as insane? Does anything about these two mediocrities and their absurd, insidious organization merit the amount of media attention they’ve received? Does anyone doubt that the huge amounts of cash dropped at their feet is in direct proportion to the degree their masters believe they’ll succeed in undermining the UFT?

Allow me to state the obvious: to believe you can speak with authority about teaching, about contracts, about what is means to “put students first ” after three years experience is beyond arrogance.

It is beyond foolishness.

It is hubris.

And the idea that, after three years you should
“ have a voice in the creation of polices that affect their profession and affect their students” is mind-boggling.

Indeed, everything about these two people and E4E is simultaneously ridicules and disturbing. Outside of their preposterous (or super-natural) conceit of knowledge, Stone and Morris make several claims that display a staggering lack of integrity. They claim, for example, that they are not anti union.

This is a lie. A hideous, insidious lie.

Consider E4E positions on everything — particularly tenure and seniority — two subjects they display no understanding of whatsoever. Contrary to Mike Bloomberg and his pals at the New York Post– conscious liars all — tenure does not mean and has never meant ” a job for life,” a phrase they repeat as often as they can for no other reason than to stroke the blind rage of a citizenry increasingly jobless and terrified.

Tenure means due process. Nothing more and nothing less. It means a teacher cannot be fired on the whim of a crazy principal or because he or she has a nephew who needs a job. It is difficult to understand what Stone and Morris are talking about when they talk about tenure. They seem to want tenure to be something that is earned on an annual basis, meaning whatever it is they are asking for, is not tenure in any recognizable sense of the word.

This change, they claim, is necessary to keep teachers from becoming complacent and thus failing to keep the students first. Tenure, according to the Stone, does nothing less than encourage complacency. A complacent teacher, by definition, does not put students first. Stone knows. He’s been a full time teacher for three years.

Hmmm.

Can you imagine any real teacher espousing this condescending, toadying idiocy? Can you imagine any teacher with any understanding of the arbitrary viciousness of the DOE under Bloomberg even considering this lunacy? More to the point, can you imagine any one who is not a paid and protected agent of union busting billionaires even suggesting this stuff with a straight face?

Seniority, on the other hand, E4E wishes to abolish altogether. Again, they wish to do this not for reasons of selfishness, mind you, nor to please their pay masters but for the kids who deserve the best teachers.

And E4E, saintly and wise beyond their years, knows exactly who they are and how to identify them.

As Gates and Broad and Bloomberg know, even if the idiots running E4E do not, the abolition of either of tenure or seniority would spell the death of the union. That same union that, somehow, E4E is not against.

It would also instantly usher in an era in which teachers would be virtually defenseless against a growing army of vindictive and clueless administrators, already growing like a cancer due to absurd institutions such as Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s similar “academy” for instant superintendents. Both, needless to say, have been created exclusively to stock as many schools and school systems as possible with the monstrosities that are the logical result of the insane idea of the principal as a CEO.

Somehow, according to E4E, teachers stripped of rights and due process would create a world that would be better for kids, a world where teachers could be free to put students first. Somehow this world would then attract and retain dedicated professionals such as themselves. Just as importantly, such a world would repulse and reveal all those clock-watching scumbags who seem to surround them and make them so sad.

They know. They have been full time teaching for three years.

Is it merely a coincidence that the policies lusted after by Gates, the Wal-Mart family, Democrats for Education Reform, Eli Broad and Mike Bloomberg’s DOE and every other union busting organization in the nation and the polices sought by E4E are exactly the same?

Not similar, here and there, mind you, but exactly the same?

Consider too E4E’s desire for the scam called “merit pay.” Forget for a moment that ample evidence shows that merit pay makes no difference whatsoever in what is chillingly called “student achievement.”

Consider too that if there is a way to distribute merit pay fairly it has yet to be discovered. Consider then that merit pay gives teachers every incentive to game the system, garner the best students, avoid those most in need, and destroy the collaboration necessary for any decent school environment to function, never mind flourish.

In short, the desires of E4E – which are the desires of every privatizer in the US of A – are fundamentally and profoundly opposed to the ethos of solidarity and fraternity that is at the core of any true union. And anyone who has any knowledge or understanding of what a union is — or for that matter of basic history — would find these positions and these people repulsive.

They would also find the attempt to pass them off as anything but repulsive as contemptuous.

The Post’s love letter to E4E centered on a “conversation” between the followers of E4E and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, whom the paper slanders as often as possible. I must admit that I was mystified why a man of Mulgrew’s statute and intelligence would dignify this ridicules and miniscule group with a meeting. Still, I must assume he had his reasons. From all accounts, the meeting was unremarkable – except for something former Chancellor Joel Klein said to Mulgrew before his the Klein’s departure: “Chancellor Klein told me before he left: ‘I’m going to pit new teachers against older teachers and I’m going to do it by trying to make it look like we’re doing layoffs.’”

Despite the fact that city officials immediately denied that Klein ever said this, the statement rings true to me. Very true.

In fact, after I read it the idea came to me that Klein may well have been referring to Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris. How else to explain the fact that two teachers three years into the job are allowed to work one day a week in a public school system? How is that possible? Who is permitting it? On what grounds? Who is protecting these horrible people?

One hint can be found in a Gotham Schools post of last year, which tells of E4E throwing a party to celebrate the DOE’s announcement that there would be no teacher lay offs. And who was their guest of honor? Why none other than that friend of teachers everywhere — party animal Joel Klein!

Can you imagine any self-respecting teacher in all of NYC inviting this loathsome person to your party? Can you imagine Joel Klein showing up at a party held by any other group of teachers besides these champion ass kissers? Klein, mind you, is the man who needed police protection at PEP hearings.

The more you look at E4E the sleazier it gets. Nothing makes sense with these people or this organization. Nothing, that is, except that in exchange for being shameless shills for their billionaire backers and conscious operatives hired to undermine the UFT as much as possible, they will be given extraordinary privileges, protections and recompense.

Their work situation with the DOE should be investigated forthwith. It stinks to high heaven and points to collusion with the DOE.

Creatures of zero imagination, creativity and integrity, Mr. Stone and Ms Morris are of no importance in themselves for in themselves they are but ciphers and nothings who can only echo the weasel words of their masters and employers. What importance they and E4E does have is in what they reveal. What they reveal is the fragmentation of this nation. What they reveal is the logic of so many dwelling in perpetual survival mode where empathy is not and life is “an endless war of one man against all others.” What they reveal is a moral and spiritual void where only power over others is honored. What they reveal is the alignment of much of the media with the most anti democratic forces and individuals in the nation.

Above all these two fools reveal the ruthlessness of the dangerously rich who believe it is their right to strip us of our rights and to impose their will upon all they can, however they can. Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris are merely two willing and utterly shameless collaborators in that process. And rest assured, neither one of these “revolutionaries” have any intention whatsoever of working under the conditions they are demanding for others. Their job now is to tell others how to do their job — and how to put children first, of course.

They need to be exposed, all of them, as people who loathe democracy and the freedom of anyone other than themselves.