Sorry — I thought it was only a battle . . . not a war on 4 fronts

by theschoolprincipal on February 7, 2011

How stupid can I be? When I retired at the end of December 2009, I was ready to take on Congress. It was quite evident that our beloved Senators and Representatives, whether Republican or Democrat, knew nothing about education. Foolishly, I believed that we could get Congress to see the light.

But with the Billionaire Boys’ Club — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the BROAD (road) Foundation, and the Sam Walton Foundation — that believes that the answer to school reform is to privatize public schools using taxpayer money, I took a deep breath — but  journeyed on. Surely, with Joanne Barkan’s Pulitzer prize-worthy article for, “everyone” would see, light would be shed and the house of cards would come falling down. [The Barkan link has disappeared. I am looking for another one.]

But that was not to be. The Broad Foundation is training businesspeople to take the helm as district administrators –  with no experience in the classroom whatsoever — in New York, California , Chicago, D.C. — all over the country.

Don’t you think that’s a good idea? I had a business for awhile. Why not ask me to run the Afghan war? Ridiculous? OK. Lower my expectations. I broke my elbow once after being tossed from my horse. I believe I am qualified to run the surgical department of my local hospital. ROI. Profit. I think I can do it. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

You don’t get it? Well, good for you. It’s ridiculous. The Wizard of Oz, who doesn’t even know enough right now to hide behind the curtains, is a good guy. But he knows nothing about the reality of running a school or teaching in a classroom. Don’t worry, fellows. Dorothy and Toto are on the way, but it’s going to take about five more years, I’ m afraid, before they can pull back the curtain and expose the Wizard for the fraud he is. In the meantime, right now  my grandson is in first grade. [I was 10 years off the mark. It’s 15 years later now and my grandson is in 7th grade and because of the way Common Core was implemented in his district, knows little math. HURRY UP, DOROTHY. I fear Toto is on his last legs.]

Wake up, everybody! It’s worse than I thought. Do we even have a chance? It’s no longer Congress or naive and untutored good-guy state superintendents, legislators, and governors that we’re  up against. Here comes the Council of State School Officers. Its first preference is to have Congress reauthorize No Child Left Behind.  BUT, they say, if you don’t reauthorize NCLB, “support us in our efforts to make NCLB work better for our states. Some of it doesn’t sound bad. After all, it gives some control back to the states. But some of it  gives a shout out to Congress by keeping NCLB alive and is the same old, same old.

Let me make it clear where I stand. Do not reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as it stands now under NCLB. Instead, take a break and reauthorize it temporarily as it was with Title 1 and IDEA. Give educators and Congress time to organize a national conversation. Identify the goals for education in America. Identify the barriers that keep us from accomplishing these goals. Only then should you, Congress, even begin thinking about solutions. Give us some breathing space and we — meaning educators and parents — will lead the way.

But with Congress, the Billionaire Boys’ Club — and now the state superintendents and legislatures influenced by the BROAD Foundation, here come the Flying Monkeys – – joined by the Council of Chief State School Officers. YOU there.  Yes, YOU. We’re under assault from all sides. How do we get our message out to the public? Help us.

We have to get rid of NCLB. We need to throw the baby out with the bath water and start from scratch. Patchwork, my dear Congress, won’t work. We’re beyond that.

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