Yes, How many corporate education reform failures must there be. Before we know the scheme is a disaster?
Or to borrow from the great poet and songwriter Bob Dylan
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Sarah Darer Littman, fellow public education advocate and commentator, uses her most recent CT Newsjunkie column to ask the quintessential question about education reform by pointing readers to Dale Russakoff’s new book entitled, The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools.
Sara Darer Littman writes,
Although no Connecticut city is as high profile in the education reform battle as Newark, which received a $100 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, there are interesting parallels to observe and lessons to be learned.
The reform movement has been characterized by jargon and combative rhetoric in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie described plans for Newark by saying the state needed to “grab the system by the roots, pull it out and start over.”
Other examples include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s famous utterance: “I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina,” and former Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor and Students First CEO Michelle Rhee’s statement that, “Cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building are way overrated.”
Is such rhetoric aimed at largely minority communities in which the schools to be reformed are based? Or is it geared toward a different audience: the powerful funders of the education reform movement?
Russakoff quotes Newark resident and teacher Princess Williams. “My calling is to fix the public schools … If something is broken and we have the power to fix it, why would we abandon it for something else?”
“It’s not about children,” observes former Bridgeport Board of Education member and current candidate, Maria Pereira, of education reform rhetoric. “It’s about the 39 percent federal tax credit they get when they open charter schools in urban communities.”
Look at the epicenters of school reform and you’ll see one critical thing in common – mayoral or state control. Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Newark: If there’s an elected local school board, it’s merely in an “advisory” capacity.
The story then turns to Connecticut.