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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creeps Like Mitch Daniels Make Teacher Tenure Necessary

UPDATE: Daniels isn't only a twerp; he's a dishonest academic.

Mitch Daniels - former governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue University - is an anti-intellectual, book-banning little twerp:
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Friday stood by his efforts to keep liberal historian Howard Zinn's work from being taught in Indiana schools, saying the actions he took while governor were meant to keep the book out of the hands of K-12 students.
Meanwhile, the university's board of trustees threw their support behind the former politician, approving a $58,000 bonus to reward him for his first six months on the job.
Daniels told reporters after a meeting of the board that a statement he made as governor that Indiana should "disqualify the propaganda" he saw being used in Indiana's teacher preparation courses was meant only to keep Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" from being taught in the state's K-12 classrooms. [emphasis mine]
You catch that? It's not that the book was even being taught in K-12 schools; it's that it was being used in college courses taken by prospective teachers. Daniels was telling adult college students what they should and shouldn't read.
After learning that Zinn's book was being used in a summer teacher training course at Indiana University, Daniels signed off on education adviser David Shane's proposal to review university courses across the state to determine what should count as credit.
"Go for it. Disqualify propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings. Don't the ed schools have at least some substantive PD (professional development) courseware to upgrade knowledge of math, science, etc.," Daniels wrote.
After being told Zinn's work was being used at Indiana University in a course for teachers on the Civil Rights, feminist and labor movements, Daniels wrote:
"This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session. Which board has jurisdiction over what counts and what doesn't?" 
See, if some smart 17-year-old brings up something sympathetic to the point of view of this very popular book in an AP US History course, the teacher shouldn't try to engage that student from a position of understanding the debate. The appropriate response, of course, is to tell him to sit down, shut up, and fill in the correct bubble. "Critical thinking," after all, is only important to a fascist like Daniels if it leads to conclusions of which he and he alone approves.

It almost goes without saying that this is yet another example of why this country needs teacher tenure. There are millions of petty little despots like Daniels serving on school boards and in district offices who would love to impose punishments on teachers who dare to challenge their orthodoxies. These people are a threat even to elementary educators' ability to teach basic truths in science and history without interference. The best way by far to protect teachers' academic freedom is through the right to due process, which is all that tenure really is.

There's another angle to this, however: don't think for a minute that the recent, foolish criticism of teacher preparation programs isn't tinged with the conservative movement's contempt for scholarship and academic freedom.

You can be sure that the unqualified faculty at Relay GSE will not be assigning A People's History of the United States, or any other books that are remotely considered controversial, to its graduate students. Deep content knowledge and scholarship is not what these programs are about, because those are not qualities conservatives want in America's teaching corps. Corporate flacks like Daniels want schools to produce compliant workers, not critically-thinking citizens; teachers who encourage divergent thinking are antithetical to that goal. It simply makes sense: teachers who march to Daniels's drum will produce students who do the same.

And that greatly lessens the chance that the good people of Indiana will apply their ability to think critically on massive hypocrites like Daniels:
First of all, I didn't realize we had decided that American schools are now the equivalent of Chinese computer factories. I guess it's absolutely imperative that Big Brother keep constant surveillance on Miss Crabtree just in case she sends something out by email that hasn't been approved by the Ministry of Truth.

And heaven forbid any minute a teacher is in school is not used to teach. Lord help us if a teacher takes part of her prep period or lunch break to engage in her life outside of work. Because I'm sure Mitch Daniels never used state property as governor to conduct personal business. That, would, after all, make him a massive, unbelievably shameless hypocrite:

A Democratic lawmaker filed a complaint Wednesday seeking an ethics investigation into whether Gov. Mitch Daniels overstepped his role when his office sent out a statement about renovations to Purdue University’s president’s office — the post Daniels will assume in January.
State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said in his request to state Inspector General David Thomas that “Daniels clearly misused state property for personal reasons” when he asked his staff to send out a statement last week to respond to stories about $380,000 in renovations being done on the Purdue president’s office. [emphasis mine]
Oh, no, no, no! See, this is totally, completely different!
This jerk has no business being anywhere near a university, much less running one. How in the world did he ever get his position?
Daniels appointed a majority of the Purdue trustees, including Krach.

Well, if the presidential thing doesn't work out, Chris Christie's got it set up to pull the same trick at Rutgers. Both schools are now in the Big Ten;  maybe he and Daniels can set up a joint school book burning before the big game in 2017...

Skip to 2:35: "It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them."


giuseppe said...

Daniels is the Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of the academic and educational worlds. A czar of stupidity, mean spiritedness and know nothingism.

giuseppe said...

Daniels is the guy who turned Indiana into a right TO WORK FOR LESS state. In 2006 he said that he wasn't for turning Indiana into a right to work (FOR LESS) state but he lied. A lying anti-labor, anti-intellectual far right winger, what a combo.

joeswell said...

"Mitch" needs to get the taxpayers of Indiana to pay for some new hair to cover what must be one of the shiniest foreheads in the Mid-West. He has one "baaaaaaaad" comb over. How do folks like "Mitch" qualify for any job that concerns education? I don't believe "Mitch" could keep a Kindergarten class "on task" for more than five minutes... unless he could use corporal punishment to maintain "order."

Teresa Wiley said...

Mitch is an embarrassment to Purdue and the state of Indiana. I don't see him lasting very long, because there are more emails to be released. The irony of this comes from Mitchy stating this whole email thing himself. When his puppet-boy Tony Bennett was defeated soundly by the Indiana voters, he accused the state teachers union of orchestrating an email campaign with school email accounts on school time. His little tantrum over the election caused several reporters to look into emails and surprise, they came across no improprieties from teachers but a boatload from Mitchy and his henchmen (one of them is Tony Bennett). The emails must be very damaging because Bennett destroyed all of the email before he left office. Fortunately he was stupid enough to think that digital information can actually be deleted - HA! Expect to hear more and hopefully see a resignation by Mitch before the year's end.