Saturday, July 26, 2008

Educational Reform Wars


The recent online debate between Diane Ravitch and her old buddy Chester Finn has drawn attention to the Klein/Rhee/Sharpton/Ed in 08 narrow vision of ed reform (get rid of tenure and all will be well) and the broader, bolder approach of Rothstein/ et al. Ravitch has joined in with the latter.

Check out these posts on the 2 visions of ed reform from Fred Klonsky at Prea Prez here and here.

Klonsky ends with:

To me there is great value of the emergence of these two clearly defined and clearly different visions. Some, even in our own union movement want to straddle the fence. But this will be hard to do. People will be asking,

Which side are you on?

Readers of Ed Notes will note that in our view, the UFT/AFT has not only tried to straddle the fence but has one foot in the Klein camp. How else to judge their actions in Chicago, New York, and now Washington in signing on to many of the narrow vision schemes like merit pay, extended days, signing on to "we'll help get rid of bad teachers" without strengthening protections for the rest?

After I posted this, I came across this particularly unfair piece from Alexander Russo on the contract negotiations in Washington, where you can take anything out of context. I guess we know which side Russo is on. My comment:

Of course Nightline focused on vending machines instead of negotiating sessions on things like class size. Not to say that if things like basic conditions for teachers weren't negotiated, Rhee would have them using outhouses for bathrooms. Also note who funds Nightline and JohnMerrow: Broad and Gates and all the othe players on the Rhee/Joel Klein team.

With DC's union chief George Parker about to set a dangerous precedent by giving away the store to Rhee, watch the actions of new AFT president Weingarten: silence, fence-straddling or outright support. But don't look for broader, bolder leadership.

Note: Commenting on the Prea Prez blog seems to require one to log on with a word press account, which I don't have. So if you can't comment there, leave one here.

And on a personal note, I recently realized that I met Klonsky's daughter at NYCORE meetings a few years ago. Sometimes it seems there's 2 degrees of separation between educational activists.


  1. It's not nearly as simple as "Which Side Are You On" when you have characters like Ms. Weingarten, who will degrade the profession for a few extra shekels. It's very hard for me to see her as an advocate for working people since she set the UFT back 30 years for a compensation increase that failed even to meet cost of living.

    In fact, it is characters like Ms. Weingarten who enable demagogues like Klein through their short-sighted, witless but momentarily expedient support of things like mayoral control, the 05 contract, and reorganization numero tres.

  2. Add merit pay, support for high stakes testing inherit in merit pay, joining BloomKlein to celebrate when they get the bogus Broad prize nad pat themselves on the back for their phony stats that try to demonstrat their so-called reforms have worked. The UFT in NYC and its AFT allies in Chicago and Washington are the enablers of this phony ed reform effort when they should have been leading the opposition.

    That is why I compare them to the role Vichy France played - just watch the UFT apologists come out of the woodwork for supposedly touching on this - but if you had this analogy question on the SST:
    Vichy was to the Germans as the UFT is to BloomKlein, would that be the wrong answer?

  3. thanks for the comment over on my site, but perhaps you didn't see that i had noted the potential unfairness of the nightline edits in my post:

    "Perhaps the excerpt was unfair, but it was hard not to agree with Rhee when she said that the issue was at the absolute bottom of her priorities."

  4. You might have raised a question as to why this particular segment was chosen. My guess is for the very reason to dub union contracts and negotiations as trivial and a waste of valuable time taken from kids. Part of the propaganda campaign against unions. The mantra runs that this should not be about adults but kids.

    Sorry, but it is just as much about the adults who are expected to take care of the kids. Keep teachers happy and secure and kids will benefit - way more than if teachers are under constant attack and pressure to perform tricks they know are wrong and ultimately bad for kids.

  5. I am perpetually amazed by people, posing as advocates for children, who propose putting adult interests last. What do they think the children will grow up to be?

    Antelopes? Bowling balls? Bicycle seats?

    Even worse is the press, which presents such unexamined nonsense with no thought whatsoever.


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