Monday, December 2, 2013

New York State Regents Practice Educational Apartheid

Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Dr. Steve Cohen published an incendiary editorial in his local fishwrap that does for the New York State Board of Regents what Port Jefferson Station Teacher's Union President Beth Dimino did for Lil John King and Scary Meryl a few weeks back. I believe the phrase involves liberating a cyllinder of a substance commonly called by its streetname : "Whoop Ass" on them all. 

At the risk of re-telling Dr. Cohen's story I have excised a few points that ring truer and truer still after a little online excursion I took into the land of unaccredited online colleges. In one of the finer digressions you'll find on the oft quoted ed reformer's mantra of "College and Career Ready" Cohen makes several penetrating insights into the haughty, hubristic assumptions that plague the New York State Board of Regents. Noting that the Regents themselves tend to ship their own issue off to private schools from day one with the intent of continuing their edification after high school in a similar private setting, Cohen points out the differences in "College Ready" for my kids and yours and "College Ready" for the spawn of The Romanovs ...  errrrr, I mean The Regents :

To be “College Ready” at Harvard (and at other selective private universities to which Regents send their children) an 18-year old must have a “good high school education,” one that “do[es] more than prepare you for the next level of  education.” A “good” high school education “should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” Specifically, graduating high school “college ready” to enter Harvard requires “close and extensive reading of the classics of world literature,” four years of a single foreign language, three years of American history, European history and one other advanced history course, four years of mathematics including at least pre-calculus or statistics, advanced physics, chemistry and biology and one other science at an advanced level and “frequent practice in the writing of expository prose.” Art and music, though not mentioned specifically, are not to be understood as incidental to proper preparation for college.

And again we observe the way these people are all so hell fired to ram Common Core through, full speed ahead, taking no prisoners and giving no quarter to parents, teachers or students regardless of their mental state, their need for counseling, anti depressants and as we've read in some cases psychiatric hospitalization from Common Core related stress. If your kid has started to starve herself, or cut or burn himself with cigarettes or is faking a bellyache in the morning to get out of that 15th "close reading" of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, the Regents have zero empathy for you. Change is hard they say and this is to be expected. Yet their own kids are spared all of this "rigor" and "readiness" just like the Commissioner of SED's kids, just like President Obama's kids. Cohen notes :

So it turns out that “College and Career Ready” means two different things depending on whether you are a public school student in New York or a student at an expensive private school. “College and Career Ready” for public school kids means achieving at a decidedly mediocre level when compared to the expectations the Regents have for their own children. Perhaps that’s one reason they would never send them to schools that are benefiting from their wonderful reforms.

Cohen further notes as many of us have surmised less articulately that non "elite" kids are having a boring, unstimulating education crammed down their throats by people who see their own kids as stepping into the ruling class's shoes when they finish college. It's no accident that the majority of American kids are being steered in the direction of the majority of newly created American jobs, the ones we tend to refer to as "dead end" or "shit jobs." Here's Cohen:

Most new jobs created in our economy are low-paying service jobs. We should be concerned that “College and Career Ready” actually refers to a curriculum that guides public school students to these jobs, leaving the few good jobs to students who receive a private high school education that prepares them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”

Make no mistake about it, “College and Career Ready” is code for education apartheid. Do not let your children breathe the stale air of low expectations, reduced exposure to the arts and music, limited engagement with sophisticated science and little, if any, prolonged, deep and thoughtful contact with great literature.

And just to check out a few of the college "opportunities" in that vast pool of online learning centers I purposely searched "unaccredited online colleges." An online company called Straighterline has agreements with so called "accredited online universities." Straigherline, however is NOT accredited and has no plans of becoming accredited. Instead they sell college credits cheap for basic courses like College Algebra, Accounting and General Chem. The place gives out no degrees and has no degree programs but does have agreements with other online paper factories that do hand out diplomas. What I found fascinating about their "Corporate Partners" was the little cloud of logos on their website representing their corporate partners. ( see above)  It was made up of Health Care companies through which workers are invited to craft their own plans. Financial companies, several of which specialized in "tuition management" and other financial services like one company who'd take payroll deductions from you to pay off items you'd laid away - The Company Store anyone? And finally a solid third of the Corporate Partners were just as Steve Cohen predicted, low wage, low benefit, union hostile corporate shit jobs who'd pay minimum or little more and you could feel free to buy your own coverage from one of the other "partners." JBS if anyone is interested is Swift the pork manufacturer that's actually a Brazillian owned company and MLGW is the utility company in Memphis. Sands owned by right wing loonie Sheldon Adelson who gave Newt Gingrich millions in support recently lost a battle to keep its security guards from unionizing. Shelly also was told to cough up $70 million to a Chinese businessman who helped him buy a casino license in Macao. He says he's not going to pay though... And he's being investigated for fraud, bribery and other transgressions which are certainly all a mixup, since when do casino owners run afoul of the authorities? 

The Regents and John King think my kids and your kids should be happy to collect credits from places like Straigherline before stepping up to the big leagues of U of Arizona online for their true intellectual feast. So a stultifying barrage of Common Core ennui will be just the elixir to keep them dull and lacking in imagination thereby compliant and cooperative when they enter the career readiness stage of the program and take their first steps into the pay for play working world. The Regents seem to believe 

our kids careers should look something like this:

Career Ready Child of a Non Board of Regents Member Serving Society

Meanwhile, the children of the 1% can plead their victimization to the Murdoch owned papers and they can all have a little titter over cakes and ices.

Cohen sums the whole mess up beautifully: 

“College and Career Ready” is a trap. Don’t fall for it. Your kids deserve better. Just like theirs.

You said it brother. 

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