And Again

posted at The G Bitch Spot as Any of This Sound/Look Familiar?, 7/30/11 16:16 PM

From April 2011, How to tell if your School District is infected by the Broad Virus [sic] at Seattle Education: News and Commentary. The end lists signs your school district has been “infected” or “infiltrated” by wealthy privatization proponents [school reform—notice “education” is not in the noun phrase; there is a difference between “school reform” and “education reform”] like the Broad Foundation or the Gates Foundation. Some signs hit very close:

  • Schools in your district are suddenly closed.
  • Even top-performing schools, alternative and schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closure or mergers.
  • Repetition of the phrases “the achievement gap” and “closing the achievement gap” in district documents and public statements.
  • Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “best practices” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)
  • The production of “data” that is false or cherry-picked, and then used to justify reforms.
  • Power is centralized.
  • Decision-making is top down.
  • Local autonomy of schools is taken away.
  • Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.
  • Culture of fear of reprisal develops in which teachers, principals, staff, even parents feel afraid to speak up against the policies of the district or the superintendent.
  • Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms.
  • Sudden increase in number of paid outside consultants.
  • Increase in the number of public schools turned into privately-run charters.
  • Weak math text adopted (most likely Everyday Math). Possibly weak language arts too, or Writer’s Workshop. District pushes to standard the curriculum.
  • Superintendent attempts to sidestep labor laws and union contracts.
  • Teachers are no longer referred to as people, educators, colleagues, staff, or even “human resources,” but as “human capital.”
  • A (self-anointed, politically connected) group called NCTQ comes to town a few months before your teachers’ contract is up for negotiation and writes a Mad Libs evaluation of your districts’ teachers (for about $14,000) that reaches the predetermined conclusion that teachers are lazy and need merit pay. [“The (NAME OF CITY) School District has too many (NEGATIVE ADJ) teachers. Therefore they need a new (POSITIVE ADJ.) data-based evaluation system tied to test scores…”]
  • The district leadership declares that the single most significant problem in the district is suddenly: teachers!
  • Teachers are no longer expected to be creative, passionate, inspired, but merely “effective.”
  • Superintendent lays off teachers for questionable reasons.
  • Excessive amounts of testing introduced and imposed on your kids.
  • Teach for America, Inc., novices are suddenly brought into the district, despite no shortage of fully qualified teachers.
  • The district hires a number of “Broad Residents” at about $90,000 apiece, also trained by the Broad Foundation, who are placed in strategically important positions like overseeing the test that is used to evaluate teachers or school report cards. They in turn provide — or fabricate — data that support the superintendent’s ed reform agenda (factual accuracy not required).
  • Strange data appears that seems to contradict what you know (gut level) to be true about your own district.
  • There is a strange sense of sabotage going on.
  • You start to feel you are trapped in the nightmarish Book Five of the Harry Potter series and the evilly vindictive Dolores Umbridge is running your school district. (Seek centaurs and Forbidden Forest immediately!)
  • Superintendent behaves as if s/he is beyond reproach.
  • Superintendent reads Blackberry (Goodloe-Johnson, also see comments ) or sends texts (Brizard, see comments) while parents and teachers are giving public testimony at school board meetings, blatantly ignoring public input.
  • A rash of Astroturf groups appear claiming to represent “the community” or “parents” and all advocate for the exact same corporate ed reforms that your superintendent supports — merit pay, standardized testing, charter schools, alternative credentialing for teachers. Of course, none of these are genuine grassroots community organizations.
  • Or, existing groups suddenly become fervidly in favor of teacher-bashing, merit pay or charter schools. Don’t be surprised to find that these groups may have received grant money from the corporate ed reform foundations like Gates or Broad.
  • The superintendent receives the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent in your town’s history (plus benefits and car allowance) – possibly more than your mayor or governor — and the community is told “that is the national, competitive rate for a city of this size.”
  • Your school board starts to show signs of Stockholm Syndrome. They vote in lockstep with the superintendent. Apparently lobotomized by periodic “school board retreat/Broad training” sessions headed by someone from Broad, your school board stops listening to parents and starts to treat them as the enemy. (If you still have a school board, that is — Broad ideally prefers no pesky democratically elected representatives to get in the way of their supts and agendas.)
  • Superintendent bypasses school board entirely and keeps them out of the loop on significant or all issues.
  • School board candidates receive unprecedented amounts of campaign money from business interests.
  • Annual superintendent evaluation is overseen by a fellow named Tom Payzant.
  • Stand for Children appears in town and claims to be grassroots. (It is actually based in Portland, Ore., and is funded by the Gates Foundation.) It may invite superintendent to be keynote speaker at a political fundraising event. It will likely lobby your state government for corporate ed reform laws.
  • Grants appear from the Broad and Gates foundations in support of the superintendent, and her/his “Strategic Plan.”
  • The Gates Foundation gives your district grants for technical things related to STEM and/or teacher “effectiveness” or studies on charter schools.
  • Local newspaper fails to report on much of this.
  • Local newspaper never mentions the words “Broad Foundation.”
  • Broad and Gates Foundations give money to local public radio stations which in turn become strangely silent about the presence and influence of the Broad and Gates Foundation in your school district. [links from original post]

You can see the whole post plus “The Cure for Broad Virus” at Seattle Education.

Right off the top of my head, half of the 41 seem familiar. Guess which ones? Hint: Stand for Children is based locally at Tulane. Hint: Pastorek’s Dept of Education had significantly higher salaries than Picard’s.

How many do you think ring, for lack of a more appropriate word, true?

a mad black woman in New Orleans

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