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

Friday, April 5, 2013

Leonie Haimson: American Hero

Since critical thinking is in such short supply these days (thanks, in part, to the growing bubble test obsession in our public schools), let me explain why the smear against Leonie Haimson is both slimy and illogical:

Regular readers here know I have great respect for Haimson, both as a champion for New York City's public schools and for the work she has done with her group, Class Size Matters. She advocates tirelessly for reduced class sizes, a broad and rich curriculum, parental involvement in school governance, and a deemphasis on standardized testing.

I don't know where Haimson is sending her son for high school; however, I will safely assume it has small class sizes and doesn't evaluate its teachers on a "growth model" that is a proven disaster. So Haimson is giving her son what she has been fighting to give all of New York City's children. I'm sure she's very grateful she has the wherewithal to provide this opportunity to her child; in fact, I'd argue it would be inconsistent if she had the means and didn't enroll him in a school that shares her values.

Contrast this to:

- Chris Christie, who says any problem with New Jersey's urban schools "is not about money", yet sends his kids to a school that spends way more per pupil than any public district in New Jersey; this in spite of the fact that this private school has an elite admissions standard and, therefore, doesn't serve the most expensive children to educate.

- Michelle Rhee, who, unlike Haimson, won't even give a straight answer about whether her children attend a private school or not. If they do attend private schools, they will certainly not be subject to the standardized tests that Rhee fetishizes over as necessary for "accountability."

- Barack Obama, who, through Race To The Top, has overseen the largest expansion of high-stakes standardized testing ever, yet sends his own daughters to a school that is exempted from such testing.

- Michael Bloomberg, who famously declared that class sizes in New York's public schools should double, yet sent his own daughters to an exclusive, expensive private school with small class sizes and high per-pupil spending.

- Bill Gates, who has pushed test-based teacher evaluation under the phony banner of "multiple measures," and suggests class sizes in public schools are too small, yet sends his own kids to a school that does not use these very same measures and has small class sizes. (Oh, did Bill change his mind? No, not really - more in a bit...)

- The New Chicago Mob, including Mayor Rahm Enamuel and Obama's good buddy Penny Pritzker, who send their kids to a private school, Chicago Lab - a school whose president decries the very practices they seek to implement in the city's public schools. And add SecEd Arne Duncan to the list of hypocrites who attended Chicago Lab.

So when Joe Williams take a cheap shot at Haimson like this:
"Leonie has to do what is best for her kids," said Joe Williams, who as head of advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform has often clashed with Ms. Haimson. "The only problem is that she keeps choosing to defend the same awful schools she would never allow her kids to attend."
Understand that she is not defending public schools as they are under the current reformy regime: she is trying to change them to make them more like the education she seeks for her own child. That is completely different from all of these hypocrites, who seek to make the public schools less like the education they provide for their own children.

And when Erin Shaw delivers a low blow like this:
Erin Shaw, a spokeswoman for Ms. Rhee's advocacy group StudentsFirst, said it was "unfortunate that others want to exercise choice for their own kids, but are working hard to make sure other parents don't have the same options, trapping other peoples' kids in failing schools."
Understand that the "choices" Shaw's boss, Rhee, proposes for public school parents are nothing like the "choice" Rhee made for her own child. Again, that is completely the opposite of what Haimson fights for.

Leonie Haimson is a genuine American hero. Her critics are illogical. Their bosses are hypocrites. It's really that simple.



Art said...

Outstanding Post.

Mother Crusader said...

I consider Leonie not only a hero, but a role model and a mentor.

Thanks for putting this BS story into the proper perspective.

Mother Crusader said...

Actually, one of the best compliments anyone has given me since I started my blog was when you said, "She's like NJ's own Leonie Haimson, a fearless mom who's tired of the crap."


Kids First FOR REAL said...

"it's not about the money" Of course it is about the near billion dollars that run through Newark that our governor controls. Newark has met it's requirements to attain control back. Unfortunately, the governor is not accountable to the law and gets to keep his hand in the cookie jar.

phila.ken said...

Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform has a lot of nerve criticizing Lonnie Hamison. He should be up front that his organization is yet another corporate education reform "philanthropy" whose goal is the privatizing of public education.


Maria May said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ad77 said...

The attack against our schools involves both parties - you need to find individual positions when voting. No assumptions can be made.

For a good look about political connections in education, the best you can do is to read the book "Class Warfare". Now the author is a "reformer" but it gives a very clear picture of the political networking of the so-called education reform movement.

The start up of "Democrats for Education Reform", our DFER 'friends' is clearly outlined in the book. And it's all about Wall Streeter Do-Gooders with too much money on their hands, a young dynamic US Senator from Illinois looking to challenge Hillary Clinton, and a whose who of politics and money. Not much on Broad (which totally impacts the ed agenda in NJ) but shows good connections - like Broad helping to support KIPP, our new bosses in Camden. And a couple of interesting quotes from, "I'm no communications hack", Cerf.

Well worth the read and the time! Learn to climb the new ropes, my friends. We need your help.

Galton said...

If had an Education Honor Roll ( I do not). Leonie would be in my top five.
Courage, intelligence and dignity personified.

For what it is is worth, public schools in America are better because fog Leonie!

Galton said...


Too old to keep this up! Sorry for the misspellings!

Duke said...

Galton, if I had a nickel for every misspelling/grammar error/redundancy on this blog...

I'd have a lot of nickles (sp)...

Android Developer said...

Outstanding Post

Android Developer said...

i consider Leonie not only a hero, but a role model and a mentor.