Monday, April 22, 2013

Ravitch Asks the Questions Leo Casey Avoids As He Finds Excuses to Align With Gates

Oh, sophistry, thy name is Leo Casey.

There is nothing like another missive from "AFT/UFT Excuse-maker in chief" Leo Casey to obfuscate an issue.

Last week he asked: Is There A ‘Corporate Education Reform’ Movement?”, using former Superintendent and policy maker Larry Cuban's case for there not being a corporate conspiracy as a jumping off point. Cuban closes with:

these “corporate reformers” have achieved some important and, to my way of thinking, worthwhile changes in the rhetoric and policy of school improvement. I take those changes up in Part 2.

Casey, in trying to justify the collaboration of the AFT/UFT with deformers, tries to distinguish...
two different senses of the term “corporate education reform” – the notion that there is a movement for education reform led by corporate elites and the idea that there is a movement for education reform that seeks to remake public education in the image and likeness of for-profit corporations in a competitive marketplace.
BloomKlein BAD Boys, Bill GOOD Boy

Then Casey jumps to the chase to make Bill Gates the good guy:
Consider the battle fought last year in New York over the publication of individual teacher evaluations in the news media. No less a figure than the billionaire mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, argued vociferously for the continued publication of individual evaluations, defending a practice that he and Joel Klein had initiated and pursued in the New York City public schools. Yet another billionaire reform advocate, Bill Gates, took to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to criticize the publications as counter-productive exercises in public ‘shaming.’ The passage of state legislation prohibiting future publication was attributable to many different factors, most especially public disapproval of this use of individual value-added scores and the political efforts of New York’s teacher unions, but there is no question that the willingness of a prominent member of the corporate elite to speak out on the wrong-headedness of this practice played a role.
No question that Gates helped turn the tide? Wow, now we can feel good about taking his money.

The upshot is that the AFT was right all along to align with Gates, though I remember reading somewhere where Casey actually said it was a mistake after one of Gates' anti-union rants.  Remember the days when Casey/Randi/Peter Goodman were lambasting Klein and painting Bloomberg as the good guy?

Behind this all was the attacks on Randi for writing a piece with Gates Foundation's Vicki Philips. Casey says,
I was reminded of Cuban’s essay and the importance of this distinction after reading some of the commentary in reaction to a recent essay on teacher evaluation written jointly by Vicki Phillips, director of K-12 education programs at the Gates Foundation, and AFT president Randi Weingarten (Full Disclosure: Weingarten is also the president of the Albert Shanker Institute.) From individual blog posts to some reader comments section on Diane Ravitch’s blog, what one found were not political analyses or reasoned objections to the particular points where Phillips and Weingarten were in agreement, but tests of moral purity, in which any discussion of common ground with Gates and the Gates Foundation was regarded as the violation of a pollution taboo
Well, we were clear as to why Randi brought Leo to DC and the Shanker blog, which, under Casey predecessor Matthew Di Carlo, was actually garnering some respect instead of being viewed solely as a mouthpiece to justify anything Randi does.

Now Casey goes after the so-called really bad guys who are not using the Gates subtle approach, ie. the Koch brothers, et al. America’s Union Suppression Movement (And Its Apologists), Part One)

Casey opens by referring to his previous piece and the
logic of forming strategic alliances on specific issues with those who are not natural allies, even those with whom you mostly disagree. This does not mean, however, that there aren’t those – some with enormous wealth and power – who are bent on undermining the American labor movement generally and teachers’ unions specifically. This is part one of a two-part post on this reality.
I love this comment:
The American union movement is, it must be said, embattled and beleaguered... Fueling these attacks is an underlying organic crisis that has greatly weakened the labor movement and its ability to defend itself. Union membership has fallen from a high point of 1 in 3 American workers at the end of WW II to a shade over 1 in 9 today.
Hey Leo, do you think the fact that the AFT/UFT is run in as undemocratic a fashion as feasible has something to do with it? What do you think the teachers at IS 292 where the UFT charter is pushing out programs think of the union?

Maybe your very collaboration on charter schools, testing, merit pay, evaluations is what has helped make us embattled and beleaguered?

Not in the world according to Casey.
With U.S. income inequality at the highest levels since just before the Great Depression, it appears that the nation’s corporate elite are intent on delivering a coup de grâce to what remains of the American labor movement.
In his entire piece, not one mention of Democratic party collaboration in this assault. Maybe in part 2.

But Diane Ravitch doesn't let him get away with it:
Leo Casey explores the context of the anti-union movement here. In state after state, legislatures have wiped out collective bargaining rights. That meant teachers would have no voice in the funding of public schools or their working conditions. Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. The so-called reformers are closing public schools and turning the students over to private corporations. 90% of charters are non-union.
The questions that I keep asking are, where was Barack Obama as the efforts to destroy America's workers gained momentum? Why didn't he go to Madison in the spring of 2011? Why did he go instead at the very height of the Wisconsin protests to hail Jeb Bush in Miami as "a champion of education reform?"
Why did his Secretary of Education effusively praise some of the most anti-union, anti-teacher state commissioners of education in the nation, like John White in Louisiana and Hanna Skandera in New Mexico? Why have Secretary Duncan and President Obama said nothing in opposition to the attacks on teachers, the mass closure of public schools, and the growing for-profit sector in education? Why was the Democratic National Convention of 2012 held in North Carolina, a right-to-work state? When was the last time that the Democratic Party held its convention in a right to work state?
In the sophistic world of Leo Casey, Obama/Duncan GOOD!

Oh, and you Unity apologists? Feel free to jump in.

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