UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 2, 2009

THE SAME SORT OF PEOPLE WHO CRASHED THE ECONOMY NOW RUN OUR SCHOOLS

Helen Zelon, City Limits - When Mayor Michael Bloomberg was elected, he vowed to improve the city's schools, initiating far-reaching overhauls that began with mayoral control: The demolition of the independent and often mayor-opposing Board of Education, the creation of a Department of Education, and the formation of the mayor-vetted Panel for Educational Policy. Critical to Bloomberg's vision was his appointment of Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, the former head of publishing giant Bertelsmann and U.S. Department of Justice antitrust attorney who sued Microsoft – and won.

Historically, educators lead departments of education. But of the 16 individuals on Klein's leadership team, only two are educators. In the Bloomberg era, lawyers and MBAs dominate. . . Others come from the political sphere. . .

Klein's nomination as chancellor required special state waivers, to permit him to assume the post without advanced academic credentials in education or experience in education leadership. "You can make the argument that the head of the schools should be an experienced pedagogue," Klein said at an education journalists' roundtable last fall. But fixing the schools posed "a massive management challenge," he said, and the mayor needed "to try outside strategies.". . .

It's not as though the city's public schools were perfect when teachers rose to the highest levels of leadership. School quality and safety varied wildly by neighborhood. Local political clubs controlled school boards. Bureaucracy was impenetrable to all but the most crafty or connected. Teachers were grossly underpaid; their professional growth was hobbled. And most critically, students were failing by the tens of thousands: dropping out, or being neglected by low-functioning schools. . .

The wholesale restructuring in 2003 that eliminated the city's 32 districts, substituting 10 regions in their place, gutted existing structures for communication and professional development, say school leaders and education advocates. Reforms were needed, but went too far, spearheaded initially by consultants from McKinsey and later by Ron Beller, a former Goldman Sachs partner who was considered "their hit guy." . . .

CEOs and investment bankers allied forces with Klein, as did business titan Jack Welch and high-profile management consultants like Noel Tichy, who with Welch created the GE corporate training center that later served as a model for the NYC Leadership Academy for school principals. Sir Michael Barber, former advisor to Tony Blair, also joined the effort, as did activist philanthropists like Eli Broad and later, Bill Gates. More than a dozen private-sector business leaders participated in the Klein-Bloomberg reform efforts, in a kind of "patrician liberalism," according to United Federation of Teachers Vice President Leo Casey, citing a long American tradition "of elite reform from above" by individuals sincerely motivated to serve the greater good, but with little personal stake in the system, in the form of their own children in the public schools, for example. . .

The DOE's increasing focus on data management as an instructional tool, and as a tool to motivate and reward leadership, in the form of $25,000 bonuses for principals at the schools making the greatest gains on state standardized tests, means that teachers have become technicians, according to the founding principal of a highly regarded and high-performing elementary school in Manhattan. . .

The extent of the reforms, many say, is a direct reflection of the diminished role of educators in the upper echelons of the DOE. Consider the department's endorsement of unconventional educator-training programs, for example, which one veteran high school principal says shows "contempt for the profession." Teach for America and the city's Teaching Fellows program both recruit top grads and career-changers and thrust them into the classroom while earning their Masters degrees in education. Many of these unorthodox recruits end up teaching only briefly, studies show, before going on to other career options. "The idea that teaching is charity work, where young people parachute in for two or three years – what does that do for children?" the principal asked. . .

"They have no idea of the human relationships and of the community educators need," said the Manhattan principal. "That's not a business model. Business is about selling things, not about people.". . .

Klein recognized teachers as "welcome assets" to learning, but envisions an education world where students will "basically work it out on their own," and where, in two or three decades, schools will be "a hybrid model where there is a physical school, a place where they go and have clubs and sports activities and drama, but then, for their academic course work, they might take most of it online."

"He is so enraptured with accountability, Report Cards, and driving the test scores up that he's forgotten that the primal scene for all education reform is in the classroom," said Manhattan Institute senior fellow Sol Stern, who writes frequently on local education. "It matters what you do in a classroom. Teacher quality and a curriculum stressing strong content knowledge are the keys to raising achievement.". . .

"Bloomberg and Klein are geniuses at marketing their products," says Stern. "But then, so was Enron. If all these investment banks were cooking the books, it's becoming clearer to me that this is also happening in the education world."

"It is absolutely bizarre that the head of the DOE has no education background or experience," said State Assembly Member Rory Lancman of Queens. . . "No one would accept a police department head without a background in law enforcement. The Chancellorship should not be someone's first job in education."

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine a private club where presidents, prime ministers, international bankers and generals rub shoulders, where gracious royal chaperones ensure everyone gets along, and where the people running the wars, markets, and Europe (and America) say what they never dare say in public."

Early in its history, Bilderbergers decided "to create an 'Aristocracy of purpose' between Europe and the United States (to reach consensus to rule the world on matters of) policy, economics, and (overall) strategy." NATO was essential for their plans - to ensure "perpetual war (and) nuclear blackmail" to be used as necessary. Then proceed to loot the planet, achieve fabulous wealth and power, and crush all challengers to keep it.

Along with military dominance, controlling the world's money is crucial for with it comes absolute control as the powerful 19th century Rothschild family understood. As the patriarch Amschel Rothschild once said: "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws."

June 2, 2009 1:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home