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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Suggestion For Randi Weingarten

Here's some news about NBC's "Education Nation" via Diane Ravitch:
Just in: An email that says, this is the panel for the parent engagement discussion at Education Nation.
Maybe it is a joke.
· Rep. George Miller
· Randi Weingarten
· Doreen Diaz, Desert Trails Parent Union (parent trigger takeover school in California)
· Michelle Rhee
· Joel Klein
· Vanessa Bush Ford, Black Star Project/The National PTA
No one should be surprised at this. Teachers are traditionally excluded from the majority of NBC's education broadcasts, and parents advocates are usually added as an afterthought.

But I'm intrigued by the inclusion of Rhee and Klein. Let's be charitable: both were, at best, mediocre at their jobs. A quick summary of Rhee's record:
No mention of the fact that she dissembled badly about her three years of teaching in Baltimore. No word of how her outrageous claims were swallowed whole by a credulous press corps, even though her claims that she was a miracle worker were absurd on their face.

No mention of how the legacy of Rhee's tenure as Washington's chancellor is mediocre test scores. No mention of how bad the "achievement gap" is after her reign, a metric she herself champions. No mention how ridiculous it is for her to claim her "reforms" helped students.

No mention of the cheating scandal under her watch, and how badly the investigation into it was whitewashed.

No mention of how she admits she drew blood from her students by duct-taping their mouths shut.
And here's the word on Klein:
Joel Klein's big deal was that his boss, Generalissimo Mike Bloomberg, would directly run the schools at the expense of local control, ushering in a boom in charter school growth. The outcome?
We now know that New York City’s gains on the state tests were illusory. The proportion passing the state reading tests fell from 68.8% to 42.4%, and Klein’s beloved charter schools had pass rates no different from the regular public schools. 

The inflated graduation rates have been exposed too. With the recent news that 75% of the high school graduates require remedial reading and math when they enter community college, the Klein Era diploma has been rendered meaningless. So ill prepared are these students that the percent who graduate from college is in the single digits. 

Despite the collapse of the New York City scores, the pundits and the chattering classes continue to heap praise on Klein. In their complete indifference to facts, the media sound like a claque that talks only to one another. The truth is what they say it is, with hardly a word of dissent tolerated or printed on their Op-Ed pages or in their news reports. [emphasis mine]
Given all this, here's my suggestion for Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers: debate Rhee and Klein on their records. Trust me, Randi: it works. Just ask Mary Bousted, your counterpart in England. She went up against Rhee on the BBC and handed Rhee her head, simply by bringing up her own failures in Washington D.C.

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Let's be clear: Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee are calling on educators to perform at a level they themselves could not achieve. It's as absurd to give them prominent places in the education debate as it would be to put Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney on a panel about how to win wars.

Look, I know it's unpleasant to call people out on their credibility. But these two have gone completely over the top; they have bought themselves a place at the table when, if we lived in a rational world, they should be hanging their heads in shame. They need to be put in their place.

I would ask you to consider, Randi, doing exactly that.

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