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, February 12, 2012

Hey, Businessman: Stay Out of My School!

It's Sunday evening, I can't shake this cough, I'm tired and cranky... so I'm really not up to dissecting this ridiculous interview with the very wealthy and very reformy South Jersey Democratic boss, George Norcross. But I can't let the evening go without commenting on this:
Norcross has sat on Cooper’s board since 1990, taking over the top seat in 2006. It is from that pulpit that he now wants to address public policy.
“I am not speaking in a political capacity,” Norcross says. “I am speaking as chairman of Cooper University Hospital. I have no business talking at length about political issues outside of education reform and Camden. It’s not my issue or goal.”
Excuse me? You think you have any business talking about education?

Norcross is the chairman of a hospital and an very wealthy insurance and benefits executive; he has made money hand over fist through our country's insane, over-priced, and ineffective health system. How does that experience in any way qualify him to say even one word about education?

Has he ever taught? Does he hold any degrees in education? Has he ever done serious education research? Has he run a school? Served on a public school board? Been a member of a PTO, even?

Who does this guy think he is that he has any right to say anything about how education should be run in Camden, or anywhere in the state? What has he ever done to earn the privilege to talk about education being his "passion"?

For that matter: how about you, Bill Gates, or Walton brothers, or Eli Broad, or Koch brothers, or Whitney Tilson, or David Tepper, or Peter Denton, or I don't know how many more of you in the Billionaire Boys Club? What has any of you ever done that gives you the right to dictate education policy? Who are any of you to tell those of us down in the trenches every day how to do our jobs?

I'm a crabby music teacher with a dopey little blog and a smart mouth, but I and millions of my colleagues across this country have more knowledge about what happens in America's schools in our pinkies than any of you will ever learn from your photo-op visits and think-tanky policy briefings. Yes, you've all made a boatload of money - so what? Are you now experts on everything? Are you going to tell scientists how to make cold fusion cars? Are you all gourmet French chefs now? Can you perform brain surgery on each other?

Every one of you needs to back off, and back off now. You have no more right than any other citizen to dictate education policy, and far less right than those of us with training and experience in the field.

Hold us accountable? Absolutely; although you'd better be ready to have the finger pointed back at you and your role in perpetuating this country's despicable income inequality - it has far more to do with the "achievement gap" than tenure or merit pay. And the fact that you want to radically remake America's public schools while isolating your own families from the havoc you are wreaking doesn't much help your case, either.

But that's the point, isn't it? Distract America from the destruction of her middle class and the rise of the oligarchy by placing the blame for all our economic ills on... teachers. Good luck with that. Because no matter what stupid nonsense you manage to get the politicians to pass, we're not backing down from teaching our students how to think.

And a thinking population is not going to put up with this reformy nonsense for much longer. Count on it.

ADDING: How about this?
He believes charters can do just as good a job for far less. But he also believes that suburban voters should be able to choose whether or not to accept a charter.
See how it works? George has lots of money, so he gets a big say. The suburbs have some money, so they get some say. Poor folks in the cities have no money, so they have no say.

Democracy? Meh...


Anonymous said...

Hello Jazzman,
Earlier I saw this http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/12/zakaria-mitt-you-need-to-worry-about-the-very-poor/ and after reading "We rank 31st of the 34 countries that make up the OECD in terms of the percentage of our population that qualifies as poor. Of the 34 member states, only Mexico, Chile and Israel are worse off than we are. The UK (at 11%), Germany (8.9%) and France (7.2%) are all much lower. The OECD average is 11%," I thought this was a very relevant piece in our struggle to help our poor students.

The Billionaire Boys Club is alive and well in NJ, seeking another source to fund their legacy. Norcross is no different than the rest of them and he does absolutely nothing unless it benefits him. How nice it must be to have an entire state's government roll over for you. It still blows my mind how being rich automatically makes you a genius in education. Never has any single credentialed profession been so dismissed and marginalized by so many looking to make a profit from them.

How bad must it get before the parents wake up?

Duke said...

Anon, I did quite a bit on this topic a while ago:


In America, the richer you are, the better your educational outcome. What does that tell us? Is ti the teachers? Hardly.

The parents are starting to wake up. Here's one who has caffeine coming out of her ears!


She's not alone. These parents are our best allies, and it helps that so many of us teachers are parents as well!

Thx for commenting.

Teacher Mom said...

Sing it Jazzman!

Deb said...

Duke - you are awesome even when you are coughing, cranky and tired. Hope you feel better, but thanks for taking the time to say it like it is.