Apr 10, 2009

Hypocrisy of Mayoral Control

The Mayor Is Out Of Control !

Norm at Ed Notes on Line has an excellent piece on mayoral control titled: Barron, Klein, Spellings, Sharpton Confrontation: New Video by Angel Gonzalez. I wanted to share this with my readers here in Washington, DC. I believe Norm's piece deserves front page billing. Even though the subject of Angel Gonzalez's video is about NY public schools - it sounds eerily familiar to what is happening right here in the District of Columbia Public Schools . I can't say that that NY parents and teachers didn't warn us before DC Mayor Adrian Fenty started down this very slippery slope of mayoral control of our public school system. I encourage you to watch closely this must see video.

There are many similarities of mayoral control of public schools gone bad in NYC and DC. They include: waiving public school superintendent's credentials, pitting charter schools against public schools, blaming teachers, failing to be transparent as promised, disenfranchising parents and other critical stakeholders, dumbing down the curriculum, teaching to the test/creating test taking mills, and blaming schools when they fail after they have not received required funding , etc. For example, when 31 of DC Public Schools did not receive the funding they were due in SY '08-09, DC Schools Chief Financial Officer , Noah Wepman said that it won't happen AGAIN next school year. Oh Really? It's hard to believe this especially when a plan was not immediately developed by Fenty, Rhee or Wepman over 1 year ago and only some adjustments were made. It wasn't until 1 year later after the release of the study by Mary Levy on DC public school funding was featured in the March 28th WaPO article by Bill Turque titled, "Study Questions Disparities in Funding Among Some Schools"did the general public learn that there was such a problem with funding. This is just not acceptable from an 'administration that vowed transparency' to the DC community.

Courtesy of
Ed Notes on Line & Angel Gonzalez: "In a brilliant new video, Angel Gonzalez of ICE and the Grassroots Education Movement exposes the hypocrisy of mayoral control and the phony mantra that their critics are all about adults and they are all about children." Here's Angel's introduction :

4-3-09 "Sharpton-Klein National Action Network / Education Equality Project Forum with pro-mayoral control and pro-charter school panelists from across the US. NYC Councilman Charles Barron condemned their privatization of public schools agenda. After protests from the NO Mayoral Control Coalition, Sharpton conceded Barron's address prior to the speeches of the panelists. Barron condemns the profiteering & the educational devastation promulgated by the Bloomberg/Klein Dictatorial Control of public education in NYC. "- Angel Gonzalez (Posted by The Washington Teacher)



andrew said...

One of KIPP's drooling mouth-breathing fans who blogs under the heading "Whitney Tilson's School Reform Blog" recently posted on an event which apparently occurred subsequent to Mr. Barron's brilliant dissection of mayoral control and the promotion of charter schools.

It points up that a sociopath is loose and running charters in the Oakland, CA area. Keep in mind that Ben Chavis would be in jail in a healthy society but wealthy people in this society have put him in charge of poor and working people's children.

Here's Tilson's blog entry:

"I owe NY City Council member Robert Jackson an apology for a case of mistaken identity. After I heard he spoke out against mayoral control during the morning panel of the Eq Equality Day on Friday, when I saw a City Council member go off on a rant on the same topic during the lunch panel, I naturally assumed it was Jackson. In fact, it was another City Council member, Charles Barron (I've never seen or met either of them).

Barron, by all accounts, is a true jackass -- he actually said during his rant that inner-city kids should be focusing on home ec and woodworking (this article by Elizabeth Green of GothamSchools.org on the idiotic things he had to say: http://gothamschools.org/2009/04/03/sharpton-cedes-time-to-barron-who-calls-for-klein-to-be-fired).

Barron is also a bully and, like most bullies, a coward. Here's more on the confrontation between he and Ben Chavis that I mentioned in yesterday's email, as recounted to me by Chavis and multiple witnesses:

Chavis observed Barron berating one of the conference organizers, bringing that person to tears, and didn't like it one bit -- he thought Barron was being a bully, so and went up to him and, face only inches from Barron's, started RIPPING him, saying (I'm not making this up): "You're a mother f-ing black pimp, you're f-ing our kids. Come to the reservation and I'll beat your ass. You want our kids to take Home Ec? YOU should wear a dress!"

Barron replied, "Well we're here, so let's do it right now." Chavis said OK and started heading for the exit. Barron, seeing Chavis was dead serious about fighting him, quickly wimped out and instead threatened to having Chavis kicked out of the hotel. They shouted obscenities at each other, with Chavis getting the last words as they separated, saying "You're a pimp! You're a pimp!"

I LIKE this guy!

Here's another story I heard about Chavis: when he became principal of the first American Indian Charter School, he went down to the street corner where the drug dealers were hanging out. They said, "What the hell are you doing here, white man." To which he replied, "I'm not white, I'm Indian -- and I'll pay you $5 if you bring back any of my students who should be in school." They said, "Hell, for $5, we'll not only bring them back, we'll beat them up for you!" "No need for that," Chavis replied. "Just bring them back."

As I said, I LIKE this guy! I'm not sure I'd recommend all of his methods, but they seem to work for him -- and, most importantly, his students!"

Cherita said...

If we had 13 Charles Barron's on the council...DCPS wouldn't be in this mess now!


Anonymous said...

Just listened to the tv news interview with Fenty that the union just forwarded to us. The mayor is really counting on principals being able to have the autonomy to fire teachers and anyone else in their schools who aren't working out, or whatever. That seems to be a model Rhee and Fenty have in mind: strong principals who can run their schools and get rid of whomever they want to.

Jesse said...

I am a veteran teacher in Houston seeking a dialogue with Teach for America teachers nationally regarding policy positions taken by former Teach for American staffers who have become leaders in school district administrations and on school boards. I first became aware of a pattern when an ex-TFA staffer, now a school board member for Houston ISD, recommended improving student performance by firing teachers whose students did poorly on standardized tests. Then the same board member led opposition to allowing us to select, by majority vote, a single union to represent us.

Having won school board elections in several cities, and securing the Washington D.C Superintendent's job for Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp's friends are pursuing an approach to school reform based on a false premise: that teachers are the cause of sub-par academic performance in urban schools, They disregard major factors like the degree of parent commitment, students habits and economic inequality. 

The corporate-TFA nexus began when Union Carbide initially sponsored Wendy Kopp's efforts to create Teach for America. A few years before, Union Carbide's negligence had caused the worst industrial accident in history, in Bhopal, India. The number of casualties was as large as 100,000, and Union Carbide did everything possible to minimize its responsibility at the time it embraced Ms. Kopp. TFA recently started Teach for India. Are Teach for India enrollees, who presumably love their country and its people, aware of the the Union Carbide/TFA relationship?

When TFA encountered a financial crisis, Ms. Kopp  nearly went to work for the Edison Project, and was all but saved by their managerial assistance. The Edison Project sought to replace public schools with for-profit corporate schools funded by our tax money. Think Haliburton in your neighborhood. Ms. Kopp's husband, Richard Barth, was an Edison executive before taking over as CEO of KIPP's national foundation, where he has sought to decertify its New York City unions.

In 2000, two brilliant TFA alumni, the founders of KIPP Academy, joined the Bush's at the Republican National Convention in 2000. This gave pivotal cover for Bush, since as Governor he had no genuine educational achievements, and he needed the education issue to campaign as a moderate and reach out to the female vote. KIPP charter schools provide a quality education, but they start with families committed to education. They claim to be improving public schools by offering competition in the education market-place, but they take the best and leave the rest.

D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee's school reform recipe includes three ingredients: close schools rather than improve them; fire teachers rather than inspire them; and sprinkle on a lot of media-thrilling hype. Appearing on the cover of Time, she stood sternly with a broom in hand, which she was using to sweep trash, the trash being a metaphor for  my urban teacher colleagues. MS RHEE, MY COLLEAGUES WHO WORK IN SOME OF THE TOUGHEST SCHOOLS IN THE NATION ARE NOT TRASH.  They are American heroes!  

TFA teachers are highly effective educators. My mentor, when I started teaching, was a TFA teacher, ironically, Ms. Rhee's interim Director of Human Resources, and he saved me in that first, difficult year. But when TFA's leadership argue that schools, and not inequality and bad habits, are the cause of the achievement gap, they are not only intellectually dishonest, they feed the the corporate influence which has blocked social changes we need to bolster our middle class, they aid the people who say the public sector can do nothing right, and thus should never regulate businesses or provide national health insurance or protect a workers right to organize.

Our society has failed schools by permitting the middle class to shrink. It's not the other way around. Economic inequality and insecurity produces ineffective public schools. It's not the other way around. Ms. Kopp claims TFA carries the civil rights torch for today, but Martin Luther King was the voice of unions on strike, not the other way around. His last book, Where do we go from here?, argued for some measure of wealth distribution, because opportunity would never be enough in a survival of the fittest society to allow most of the under-privileged to enter the middle class. My e-mail is JesseAlred@yahoo.com.