Monday, May 19, 2014

My Three Top Reasons for Being Mean to Diane Ravitch

I am actually just warming up but it won't last long...


It's no secret if you've read any of my screeds that I am no fan of the Ravitch. Blasphemy! No fan of Diane Ravitch all of my better educated and highly informed fellow pedagogues gasp. Why, she was a hard bitten ed reform zombie who converted on the road to Damascus and has seen the light. She was the Grand Imperial Assistant Bushmaster of Ed in the Dubya regime and she came across the aisle to reject ed eform and embrace what ever the hell this is we're calling ourselves. Yes, and for that she is to be admired and congratulated -- except for the nagging question I have always heard in the back of my cavernous dome asking : How the fuck did she ever get tipsy from the bottle of ed reform in the first place? What gargantuan lapse of judgement ever occurred that allowed an obviously highly intelligent woman of her stature to align herself with the predatory and parasitic underbelly of privatization and "ed reform" at any point in her intellecutal C.V. ?  In fairness I don't know how, this is much less rhetorical than it sounds friends, friend, ... Mom. Yeah, throwing mud at St. Diane is a damned lonely business but I honestly believe it needs doing. Blake submitted that satire was like a cleansing fire that might leave what's desirable intact and whole in the end. I'd like to say that's what I am doing but maybe I just like flinging mud at  untouchable icons and sacred cows.

Most recently St. Diane has come out in support of a Mikey Mulgrew concocted contract for the UFT in NYC. She has found it to be a noble restoration of the teaching art or a triumphant return to professionalism or the holiest time on record or some such shite. She somehow misses in her hagiography of said document though, the ugly details that NYC teacher and UFT chapter leader Arthur Goldstein points out about the diminished rights of fellow teachers known as ATR's in this sacred covenant. These folks may be dispatched in a single one day long expedited 3020-a hearing on the say-so of two Principals who find them not to their taste. And if you've read one horror story about an errant knave masquerading as a NYC Principal you've read a dozen. How hard would it be to get two of these cretins to gesture a Roman thumbs down and send a whistleblower packing? Yeah, not very. Do you think Arthur Portelos is supporting this clause after the 2 year struggle he endured for blowing the whistle on a sketchy admin? The contract also includes some reformy language about schools being set up outside the purview of the contract free to do as they will  -- and if you've ever heard the cheesey shadow talk of charter schools folks you know damned well this is what they are describing. I won't badger either of my readers (a lady who subs at my school suggested without irony that I should write smaller posts) with a litany of what ails this contract. Goldstein's rebuttal posted on Ravitch's site - to be fair - lists them with far greater facility than I will muster from here in the newly plowed furrows of the Eden cornbelt. Read his entire post HERE. The fact that Goldstein, Portelos, The MORE caucus of UFT and just about every NYC ed blogger I can find are encouraging a NO vote on this diabolically inspired agreement tells me all I need to know. How Diane Ravitch got this one SO wrong baffles me.

The much heralded friendship between Ravitch and Randi Weingarten is another source of red flags. Weingarten is the post modern prototype for the collaborating union wonk who schmoozes with all of the wrong people, Gates, Murdoch, etc, supports all of the wrong causes Common Core and InBloom and when she is exposed as a fraud and a Vichy Quisling rat, she hotfoots it up to Philly and gets herself "arrested" to inject a little photo op street cred into her depleted image. And as teachers are generally not terribly streetwise or badass in spite of what a certain gasbag Professor at a small private NYC college will tell you, Randi's schtick plays pretty well and buys her some time. I actually read tweets and facebook comments on the Philly photo op, errrr, I mean "arrest" from intelligent teacher types who said things like "Yeah, Randi is getting on board, this is more like it!" "All right Randi, way to go!" No, I did, I really read shit like that from people who oughtta know goddamned well better. And it's fine that Diane is her friend. I don't care but I do care when Randi's career long self serving and politic machinations are forgiven and overlooked bu such a powerful voice as Ravitch with statements like "we disagree..." Fuck disagreeing. If you are THE voice of the teacher culture and you are THE one whose lips go to the ears of power then WE can't afford to have YOU pulling punches because you don't want to hurt the feelings of a collaborating sell out whose allegiance to Bill Gates is much better documented than her efforts to stand up for rank and filers with chalk stains across the backs of their sport coats and cardigans. We need more from the person generally acknowledged as the most influential and powerful pro teacher voice in America. We don't need anyone acting as an apologist for the worst brand of non representative union hackery of the 21st century.

I won't perseverate but I will quickly refer back to the previous mudball I flung at the Batass Teacher Society. Diane encouraged all teachers to run out and join this crew. Well a bunch of us already had joined and were expelled before Diane ever got around to endorsing them. Maybe it's not her place to be telling people what internet clubs to join, I can't really say for sure. But after being ousted from the national Batasses (for telling them they were all hot air when none of them were willing to go to University of Buffalo and mic check Obama read the post HERE.) I was reluctant to rejoin them. I was messaged by some people I had come to know on facebook and encouraged to join the N.Y. State Batasses. Well who can say no to friendly encouragement especially when it's even a little flattering, You like me? You really like me? I trilled in my best Sally Fields voice... And for a period of months I had some fun posting comical memes and my blogposts along with commenting on the stuff others had posted. It seemed cool. Until one Sunday, the Grand Imperial Batass pronounced that BATS would be supporting Sheriff Andy Cuomo's plan to extend the school to prison pipeline by adding a third leg at the end. It would now be called the school to prison to college pipeline and anyone who had a problem with this edict was told to "find another group." Anyone who used the word "con" in reference to a state prisoner  ( and who in hell would?) would be banned without warning. As many others did I questioned Great Dear Leader's hamfisted top down, patriarchal tone and for questioning it I was once again banned. So were dozens if not scores or hundreds of others on that cold Sunday morning. I since have heard from former admins who took and collected screen shots of the abuse, insults and profane showers of guano Professor Bat is in the habit of spewing upon his underlings. A culture of abuse, accusation, substance abuse and generally unsavory antics was revealed and all the folks I spoke with still have the screen shots. So if anyone from their misamic little grotto wants to get batty I suggest they keep their bugcatchers shut and stay on their perch. And if Diane is still telling teachers to race out and sign up she needs to check herself and look a little further than what's in the self styled press releases these wannabe celebucators are floating for general consumption.

There's always more but for now I think this is a pretty fair sketch of why I really believe St. Diane needs to have her halo adjusted. It's obvious she is on the right side of many issues. She is a hard working, intelligent advocate for many of the things we all hope education can become. Maybe she has spread herself too thin and that's partly reflected in the health issues she's dealing with now. I will never agree with those who say we don't dare fight amongst ourselves or critique the nominative leadership figures. I have learned quite a bit from fighting amongst ourselves and probably the main thing I am learning is that some of us are not among ourselves even a tiny bit but are only in this for themselves. You find this out when you fight them and they show you what they are really about. Then you dismiss them and move on and before long you'll hear their implosion and see the little puff of ego bomb in the ear view mirror. Which is fine because you have a fight to fight. 

9 comments:

  1. I had a huge fight among ourselves today. Thank you for making me feel a whole lot better.

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    1. I hope you got your punches in. Glad to help. The only ones who don't want internal squabbling are the ones who think they are in charge. Fuck em.

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  2. Sean,

    There's too much drawer-dropping across the anti-reform crowd these days. The enormity of that fucking juggernaut and how it can step on all necks means there aren't enough necks to expose or there isn't the right level of panic. Older teachers see the writing on the wall: get the fuck out. Younger teachers see a black chasm of drudgery and surrealism yawning before them. It's the middle these fuckers want to neuter and lobotomize so they can lead them to the charter holding pens or the killing fields. This is how you suffocate a democracy in the crib and the people of this country don't realize how different the changeling is. Sorry for all the figurative flight, but I was painting a picture of a turd as I was driving over speed bumps.

    ralphyboy

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  3. McKinley TeacherMay 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Anyone who has to call themselves a badass probably isn't so tough. I've got no use for an organization that prides itself on how many likes they've accumulated. I would suggest that the BTF hire you as a PR spokesperson. We need an honest, in your face, no bullshit messenger.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words but from what I hear and see over on Porter Avenue these days, straight talk is the last thing any of them want to traffic in. We are going to send memos to Karen Magoo enjoining her to file a statewide lawsuit against APPR. Why now and why her? Why not just send the memo straight to Mulgrew since he's the shotcaller. All talk and no ass as Coach Dickerson might say. We need to start beating the bushes now for the person to knock Phil out of his King Lear chair and get this union back to work for you, me, the mid-career folks and the kids who are facing 30 years of dysfunction, attacks and reformy bullshit.

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  4. Ralphy, I am now banned from our familiar forum in the Nooze comments section. They finally decided they can't take the competition and have found it easier just to keep me out. I can't imagine encouraging any young person to enter the field now including my 21 yr old, 18 yr old and 16 yr old kids. Maybe if I had some weird grudge against them I would but who signs up for a career of Pearson dictating your every move and scumbags like Cuomo Obama and Duncan attacking you for wanting to teach. Glad to see you made the trip here.

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  5. Count the numbers on the badass march on Washington thus summer as a sign of how much real support is out there.

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  6. It will be interesting to see if the assbats numbers in real life bear any relation to the inflated membership numbers they post daily.

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  7. I think Diane has gone as far as she is capable of going, given who she is, her background, her history... and that's a long way from where she started... its not about intellectual capacity - its just the sad fact that the next steps she needs to take are too dangerous for her, too radical... she didnt get there when she was younger and its most unlikely she can afford (within her own psyche) to go there now... she would have to re-evaluate her entire life, throw most of it away and reinvent herself... that's mid-life crisis work, not something most people in their 70s do...

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