I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reformy Astroturf

Time for another edition of "Spot The Pattern"! Can you find the pattern in these reformy stories?


I can't embed the video (click the link to watch it), but protesters, shipped in by bus, are paid to demand a "failing" public school in the Windy City be closed. The protesters wind up being bussed back to a church center run by a pastor. As they disembark, the reporter asks several to name the school; they can't.

New York:
9th and 10th graders at Renaissance Charter High School made the following video as an assignment. They did such a good job that it received a mention in theNew York Times.

I suppose this is an example of the innovative teaching that goes on in charter schools. Of course, it is easy for students to make something like this when the school has proper video equipment. As you watch the video, ask yourself what the students might have actually learned from this project. Yes, maybe they got experience being in front of a camera. They also probably got a taste for what it means to be behind the camera. Finally, they most likely used editing equipment to take all of their raw footage and weave it into a comprehensive piece.
Public school children are perfectly capable of doing the same thing; all they need is the equipment. Of course, in the age of budget cuts that starve public schools, it is unlikely many of them would even have this equipment.
The students did a good job on the video. It is not their fault that their teachers required them to shill for Governor Cuomo. While some teachers might be impressed with something like this, I do not see the educational value at all. The only thing the students of Renaissance Charter High School learned from this video is how propaganda works.
New Jersey:
This past week, pro-voucher forces in New Jersey bussed kids in from local Catholic schools to rally in support of a school voucher bill. 

N.J. protesters rally in Trenton to support school vouchers

Chris Christie condemned that rally; he thinks it is wrong to take kids out of school for a protest:

"The schools did a lousy job in really permitting all these students to walk out in the middle of the school day. Their parents send them there not to protest. They send them there to learn. And I have no problem with students protesting. They have absolutely every right to exercise their first amendment rights. But they should exercise their first amendment rights either before school or right after school."
Good for the governor! Children should never be used as political pawns...

Oops! Oh, is my face red! See, this is a quote from last year. He wasn't complaining about a pro-voucher rally where kids - many of whom did not know why they were there - were bussed in by adults. No, he was complaining about spontaneous high school student walk-outs in protest of his cutting nearly $1 billion from public education.

Gosh, sorry to get that wrong. But I'm sure the Governor will be as equally dismissive of this rally as he was of the student walk-outs last year. He'll be out with a condemnation of this right away.

Yep, any minute now...

Any corporate reformer who tells you that reforminess is a "grass-roots effort" is full of beans. This is all a professionally staged, billionaire-funded, unaccountable assault on public education. And these people will use uniformed citizens and children as pawns without the slightest reservation if it gets them what they want.

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