Friday, May 17, 2013

Hypocrisy and Protest Over Merryl Tisch Teachers College Award

There are activists in the educational community and TC alumni who are debating whether to call for a protest of the Merryl Tisch award at your graduation [May 21]. While there are different opinions on this topic, they are all asking if there will be a protest from the graduating students. They realize that you are entering teaching at a very difficult time and they admire your courage. They are hoping that as beginning teachers you can find small ways to protect both the children and our profession by protesting the horrible anti-child and anti-teacher policies pushed through with Race to the Top funding.  ... Professor Celia Oyler, Teachers College
This story has been brewing for weeks and I've been waiting for it all to flow before compiling links and comments. What to do at graduation? Disrupt? Silent protest? Some of our contacts in the grad school and TC alum have been debating the issue internally and so far no firm decision has been made.

Some TC grad students also took part in the AERA Arne Duncan demo in San Francisco recently. I know that some might be concerned about showing civility no matter what the outrage (When Davids Boo Goliaths Do They Lack Civility?) and I'm guessing from internal list serve comments that at most we may see a turning of backs as the award is being presented while an outside protest is still being discussed.


There is a direct conflict of interest: as president of Teachers College, Susan Fuhrman also serves on the board of directors of Pearson PLC; she is paid a substantial sum of money each year and, through stock ownership, directly benefits from Pearson contracts.  One such contract is Pearson’s $32 million contract with the New York State Education Department as the vendor for grades 3-8 ELA and math tests. Surely Fuhrman’s tie to Pearson is an act of gross impropriety if not an illegal conflict of interest.... It was President Fuhrman’s decision to honor former TC alumna Merryl Tisch.
Teachers College is supposedly a progressive education institution, but is apparently run as a dictatorship by Susan Fuhrman. (There's lots of stuff floating around about her style coming out of the TC student and faculty ranks so any protest is not just about the Tisch award.)

Susan Ohanian points to the incestuous relationship between Pearson and NY State Ed, linking to comments from Fred Smith:
Here's another signal of how the public is being taken out of public education--which has become a field of schemes for private profiteers like Pearson. 
New York State Education  Department & Pearson Hold Hands to Call the Shots: Fred Smith -
Diane Ravitch headlined: Teachers College to Honor Doyenne of High-Stakes Testing

It's not only about Tisch and high-stakes testing, it is also about her being one of the leading ed deformers running the State Board of Regents as a dictatorship. She decided on State Ed Commissioner David Steiner, who went down in infamy for granting Cathie Black her waiver and the current ed deform slug John King.

There are so many great commentaries emerging on this issue I can't keep up with all of them. Diane posted this powerful piece from a TC Prof: Professor Oyler: An Open Letter to My Students.
[Tisch's] actions while Chair of the New York State Board of Regents have wrought incredible damage upon our noble profession. Merryl Tisch has ushered through the Board of Regents many policies with which I vehemently disagree; these include: decoupling teacher certification and master’s degrees from university-based teacher education (approving Relay Graduate School of Education); allowing InBloom to collect and sell private data on each K-12 student in New York State schools; and requiring all school districts to tie teacher evaluation to Value Added Measures based on student test scores.... If I were at the graduation convocation, I would wear a sign on the back of my robe. It would probably say, “USING STUDENT TEST SCORES TO RATE TEACHERS DISHONORS US.... I couldn’t be silent. I would feel complicit; my silence would be condoning the award.... I cannot sit silently while teachers across this country are being viciously attacked and demeaned by the junk science of VAM..
How interesting that college professors like Dr. Oyler brand VAM junk science while our own union defends it.

Our pal Fred Smith and Change the Stakes colleague has a piece up at Schoolbook:
It is a dark day when Teachers College, a venerable institution of learning, engages in actions that are contrary to the values it has upheld and nurtured for more than a century but that day has arrived....
Its founding vision was to train teachers to work effectively with the children of New York City’s poor by understanding and furthering the many ways that children are capable of learning. Individual differences were respected, cherished. The words progressive and humanitarian were embraced by Teachers College.
Unfortunately, the unilateral decision by T.C. President Susan Fuhrman to honor New York Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch next week at the school’s convocation defies this tradition. 
Fred goes on to eviscerate not only Tisch but Fuhrman:
Fuhrman has reportedly received almost $1 million in the form of stocks and fees (as “non-executive independent director) from Pearson, the state’s current test publisher. And closing the circle, Pearson not only has a five-year $32 million contract with the state to test 1.2 million students in grade 3 to 8 each year in reading and math. It has taken over gatekeeping programs that assess who is qualified to be a teacher and whether their performance as teachers is satisfactory. So T.C. trains the teachers, the state hires and evaluates them and Pearson thrives — monopoly style — on this neat arrangement.
Here's the link for the national teacher petition calling on TC to rescind the award for Merryl Tisch:

And the link from TC alum Carol Burris:
The letter of concern of alumni can be found here:

While most people are not willing to go this far on the Tisch story I have no qualms and I have had many occasions to use the photo below. RBE did touch on this in Tisch And Teachers College

I wanted her to run for mayor because I wanted to find out more about her family's connections to K-12 Inc. and the for-profit education industry as well as the family history in the cigarette business.

Tisch Family Connections to K12 Board and Charter School

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