Monday, July 20, 2009

It Will Make Your Head Spin

Federal stimulus dollars, American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), are sure to produce opportunity and challenge for the education community. At the heart of the challenges is the fact that big business is a key player in virtually all so called reform movements, including the Coalition for Student Achievement which is the source for a key document being used in Delaware. I am referring to "Smart Options: Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success."

It is difficult to read this document without getting the idea that the writers believe the way to student achievement is to weaken teacher unions particularly in respect to the rights they bargain around job security, fair evaluations, seniority, and transfers. Moreover the authors, no doubt encouraged by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are charter school proponents. They advocate, "Aggressively close poor-performing schools and replace them with new high-performing schools."

The new improved high-performing (sounds like the same marketing used for deodorant) schools can be "public/private partnerships". Of course these new super duper institutions must "...have control over their staffing, budgets, and time. This may require revising local union agreements." Let us not forget that the new better than Coca Cola schools will need autonomy and "This will require states to free these schools from the majority of state codes and restrictive provisions in union contracts."

The quotes in this post are directly from the document described above. This would be a much longer post if I included every direct and indirect swipe at collective bargaining.

Shall I return to the beginning when I referenced the negative impact of big business in education reform. Essentially, they believe that the problem is the workers (teachers) have too much control of their own workplace (school) and policy (education). Also, the private sector is always better than the public sector so move to a charter system that has the best of both worlds, private control with public money.

In other words, the actual educators should have their power reduced so that a powerful top-down model can be imposed. Community public schools that democratically elect boards and answer to taxpayers for funding will be replaced by charters that take public money but choose their own boards and answer not at all to the public.

So chew on all that while you contemplate making us globally competitive, enhancing student learning, solving the youth drug, violence, and sex problem, all while doing it for 2.5% less pay.

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