Friday, March 29, 2013

So Much for The Reformers and "The Civil Rights Issue" of Their Era

We've all heard the now famous line from the "reform" camp that "Education is the civil rights issue of our era..."  I will pause and allow the ironic outrage of such a comment coming from a movement backed by free market billionaires to sink in... As we've seen this past week in Chicago  (which also happens to be the petry dish of the Shock and Awe school of Friedman based economics) poor urban, minority communities have been targeted and their schools closed down despite scholarly objections backed by research, community protests led by the people whose kids are being attacked and of course the teachers and their union as well.  Here is a piece from an article by CTU President Karen Lewis published in the Chicago Tribune March 29, 2013 :

"I believe 50 schools, however, was Mayor Rahm Emanuel's target all along. It was textbook shock and awe. Start with a large number and slowly dial back until reaching the desired figure under the guise of listening to the community — a page right out of the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy. Close public schools named for deceased African-American heroes — Marcus Garvey, Mahalia Jackson, Benjamin Banneker, Garrett Morgan — and open charter schools named for living billionaires with no ties or accountability to the people they serve."

Civil Rights Pioner Rev. Jesse Jackson Marches with CTU President Karen Lewis Absent from Photo are  Noteworthty Chicagoans Secretary Duncan, Eli Broad, Barack Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

We have heard from no less of a public figure and "Chicagoan" himself Barack Obama and his fellow Chicagoan U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, that "Education is the civil rights issue of our time." See if our Chicago boys can square their rhetoric with some of the numbers coming out of the push for school closings : In Chicago 41 % of the students are black but 88% of the kids whose schools are being closed are black. Does this strike our Harvard lawyer President and our Yale Sociologist as anything that might be considered disproportionate? Or maybe as some of the more candid speakers of our generation have said "Racist?"  Meanwhile another school closing orgy of reform is tightening its grip on the throats of Philly's schools as reported in the New York Times :  

Action United, a group that opposes the closings, presented data Monday showing that 80 percent of the students affected by the planned closings are black; the district’s enrollment is 55 percent black and 19 percent Hispanic. The group released a Dec. 18 letter it had received from the Education Department saying that the closing plan is subject to an investigation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and two other laws that are enforced by the department’s Office for Civil Rights. “The district has not demonstrated why closing schools in predominately African-American neighborhoods with higher numbers of students with disabilities serves any educational necessity that could not be accomplished through less discriminatory alternatives,” the group said in a statement.

And to tie this all together, not in my words, though I admit they can be pretty goddamned funny when I get my Blarney on, but in the words of the Washington Post's Jeff Bryant who, in early February,  summed up a week's worth of feedback on the current state of American "Education Reform" thusly : 

Events this week revealed how market-driven education policies, deceivingly labeled as “reform,” are revealing their truly destructive effects on the streets and in the corridors of government.
From the streets, we heard from civil rights and social justice activists from urban communities that school turnaround policies mandated by the Obama administration’s education agenda are having disastrous results in the communities they were originally intended to serve.
From the corridors of government, we were presented with irrefutable evidence that leaders driving the reform agenda are influencing public officials to write education laws in a way that benefits corporate interests rather than the interests of students, parents, and schools.
These events, in tandem, reveal an inconvenient truth of education reform that should make anyone who promotes these policies question, “Whose interests are being served here?”

I daresay the billionaires and their lapdog politicians cowering behind their phoney curtain of Philanthropy are suffering an acute case of Wizard of Oz Syndrome. Slowly but surely and community by community a growing chorus is rising from the scenes of their crimes. Here in Buffalo we have one that's popular at Sabre's and Bills' games.  Apparently they love it in Baltimore as well (swipe to about :30 second mark if you're impatient)


  1. Does it make you wonder a bit what is in store for the Buffalo Public Schools as part of the Superintendent's new "Buffalo Way"? She has mentioned several times recently that we are running a $51 million dollar deficit. That's her new financial meme, I believe, a part of the "Buffalo Way" and in the childishly simplistic powerpoint that describes said "Buffalo Way", mentioned numerous times is 'cost saving'. You can look on the district's website for this content-thin powerpoint.
    It was not that long ago that our friends from Say Yes, through their consulting firm Cross and Joftus, were publicly spouting to the News that there was a "shocking" lack of pupils in our middle schools.
    Cross and Joftus spent 5 minutes in 195 classrooms and ended up with tons of niftily important observations and suggestions.
    I would like to hear from some of those middle school teachers themselves because something about those numbers doesn't smell right.

    Here are some links:

    The parents and residents of Buffalo need to pay close attention to what is going on in the district now. If belts are to be tightened, you know they will not be tightened at City Hall. They will be tightened in our minority neighborhoods, they will be tightened by increasing class sizes, they will be tightened by reducing special area teachers. So far, the Buffalo Way has increased administrative staff and allowed the consultants of Say Yes to run our school district. All we have gained is a new Folasade Oladele by the name of Mary Guinn. No one on the board even knew she was coming on board!
    Thanks once again to those sleepyheads serving on the Buffalo Board of Education. Please wake up, you clueless ninnies.

  2. It looks like "Say Yes" is a modern hydra at work taking over the 8th floor at City Hall and all the heads are hydrocephalic...or maybe just phallic.
    Historically, folks who think with that head make cosly mistakes that are problematic for a long time.

  3. Old RepresentativeMarch 31, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Have you been following Syracuse and their Broad broad/brood?

  4. So, the Cross, of Cross and Joftus is a Broadie. I am sure there are many more connections. But with Bob Wilmers, and his purchase of his own little school district (Promise Neighborhood) in Buffalo, Say Yes doesn't have the need to bring in a Broadie just yet. PCB is sufficiently under Wilmers and Say Yes' spell. I know you noticed that another one of our public schools will be run by the Westminster Foundation, Bob's charter school funding tax writeoff.

    "*Christopher T. Cross
    Christopher T. Cross is chairman of Cross & Joftus, LLC, an education policy consulting firm. Mr. Cross also serves as a consultant to the Broad Foundation and the C.S. Mott Foundation."

    Also, two of the top foundation clients for Cross and Joftus are:
    -The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    -The Broad Foundation

  5. Hare,
    Good job ferreting out the sickening facts about Critter-pher Cross. Now that we know about his Broad-assed connection, we can expect more "infiltration" and privatization. ..and the poorest kids in the city will be slapped down again. Ugh!

  6. Haven't we always known there is no such thing as a free lunch.....Say Yes / Cross and Joftus seem to be able to walk into city hall and grab a deputy sup position. Did any board members question this?

    I know its old news to the regulars here, but some background info on Eli Broad and his efforts to privatize public education: