Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Schools Tank

Think tanks across the country are conflicted places that encourage agendas to planned, decisions to be made and biased to be believed.  You get what you pay for.

The Gates Foundation like the Walton foundation and many other rich white folks are very into Education "reform" as they are sure these bastions of public institutions that are free and available to anyone residing in the U.S. regardless of status can attend from K-12.  None ever went to said institutions and none Teach there or even talk to anyone there so they are pretty sure they are broken regardless and they alone have the money and the skills to do this.

I found this blog entry in a Seattle blog of all places from two Nashville School Board members who oversee the most broken educational system I have personally experienced to the point an entire book is about it which ends ironically at the point they reference in the post, 2010.

When I arrived a year and half ago I started to sub, I had all the intent of working full or part time and had made efforts to secure a license in which to do so.  The first school I went to was in North Nashville, it was adjacent to the TSU campus and close to the first integrated park in Nashville. Even the name of the school was a legacy one from a family whose history in Nashville cannot be ignored and even now marks the Capital with the African American Museum and their role in the construction.  After the two days I was there I could not believe the chaos and kindness that I experienced.  A Teacher point blank stated to me that she did not want me riding the bus home as the neighborhood was not safe and walking across the campus to catch said bus not a good idea.  Right there I questioned the logic of that statement as what does that say about the kids or the faculty or even the city that at 4 in the afternoon it was not safe.  Irony is that white people are gentrifying the area and calling it now "City Heights" so much for that largely working class area and the future of the residents in this city of now.

The board is one of dysfunction here and frankly incapable of monitoring and meeting the needs of the 95K plus students enrolled in the school system here that is not just the City of Nashville but the entire county of Davidson in which the city resides. They also oversee and approve the charter schools that exist here and that too is often overridden (much like city laws) by the State board of Education that is doing their best to destroy public education across the State in the same way they have managed to do so in Nashville.

This history of segregated divided and appalling Education here is something to experience to believe.  The schools just suck here.  There is no other way to put it.  But it is not needing reform it just needs support, it needs services and funding fully to provide said services.  They are not capable as they are spread too thin and too far.  When I arrived the new Superintendent had just started and there was belief that a black man would provide the grounding and address the issues that are largely centered on race and poverty.  These two Board members while busy seeking public support have done little but sign off on most of his suggestions and never reviewed his contract or his term here much to the consternation of many in the district who now one year later are seeing the affects of his lack of engagement.

I was at an Elementary school yesterday that I had been to many times last year and enjoyed and thought I would so again.  Since that time the former Principal is gone and replaced and my greeting was one of less friendly and more business immediately assigning me a morning duty, checking that I a credential to wear and then immediately sent to my classroom where I found no lesson plans, a shared space with another Teacher who was also gone and in turn a Sub who was clueless. This was my third sub in as many days who had no fucking idea what was going on in a district that claims a sub shortage that they have outsourced two dozen schools to an employment agency, irony that it was the very first school that I had been to on the list and while I was not surprised I felt for as I had been back a few times thereafter with mixed results.

I went to the office and they sent the Principal down who offered me a para pro job which I refused;   I told her I am a Teacher and that is why I am here, qualified and credentialed yet sharing a space with a man who did not even understand lesson plans so this was irony.  She said she was emailing the Teacher to find out what was going on and over an hour I waited, took care of some business, read some of the news paper and then two hours after I arrived I left.  They seemed shocked that I would leave as they always are and I promised to be back.  I won't.  I saw that the new Principal has written a note that is given to every Sub when the arrive that basically begins with a scold and reprimand, a warning, telling us that we are not to leave the building without telling the office and if we do they will contact payroll to amend our hours to reflect that absence then proceeds to go into whom to call with questions and if disaster strikes what to do and what email to sign on to to get the information needed.  Sure if there was a computer to sign on to I would but well no such tool exists.  No computers, no laptops no anything. Sure okay and I made sure to tell them I was leaving. The irony is I could of and no one would have cared one iota.  They never do unless they do.

That constant reprimanding and scolding is just part of the "Nashville Way." I used to think it was a black/white issue as I encounter largely Black superiors with the appropriate three letters after their name, the title to accompany it and in turn ensure that I know they are not only better educated than I but in a position of power so I get it.  That is consistent attitude in Education and the largely female and in turn workforce of marginalized people the playing of politics is part of the dys-function of education. You see this in another large institution of the same hierarchy and history - the Medical Industrial complex.  The reality is that when you have underpaid largely female workforce relegated to service oriented positions you get what you have - dysfunction, resentment and misdirection of anger towards those you are serving, those at the bottom and the most in need versus those at the top who ignore and further marginalize you.    And all of them duplicate the largest other service industry - hospitality - particularly those of restaurants with the front of house, back of house organization and communication among the staff.  Think of schools as restaurants - fast, fast casual, fancy - and you have a fairly good model of what Education is like.

It is that that the basic of the book I intend to write but again I cannot stress enough that schools are community organizations that serve the community they exist.  The idea behind this was to elect school board members to represent those interests and in turn assist in the guidance and selection of those whose jobs is to administer and employ those to reflect said interests.  That is not happening.  And these two with the best of their intentions are giving lip service.  The same is in Seattle as I know I lived there and that was in the backyard of the Gates Foundation.  Tennessee long sold out their system and it shows, Seattle and Washington fought the good fight and lost. Money speaks in America and you get what you pay for.

We need the same Army that is the process of saving Puerto Rico to come in and level and save pubic education as no one listens to the Army that already exists in the forts so why bother, just trash them that is the best idea. Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans what well serving white people and the black individuals who served their interests failed we can only hope for more right?

UW Bothell ‘Think Tank’ CRPE Aims to Dismantle Public Education

Big Money

By Amy Frogge and Will Pinkston

Many Washingtonians may not realize it, but the University of Washington Bothell is harboring an organization that’s intent on dismantling public education in America.

UW Bothell’s Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) — an anti-public education think tank funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and other philanthropies that are hostile to public schools — is wreaking havoc in communities as far-flung as Indianapolis, Nashville, and New Orleans.

CRPE’s list of “senior research affiliates” reads like a Who’s Who of special interests determined to tear down public schools and replace them with publicly funded, privately run charter schools. As members of the local school board in Nashville who are fighting against the devastating effects of school privatization, we are writing this column to advise Washington public education advocates — including the leadership and faculty at UW Bothell — that you have an enemy in your midst.

CRPE first surfaced in Nashville in 2010, when it convened an elite group of civic, and charter school leaders to ink a “collaboration compact” with Metro Nashville Public Schools, America’s 42nd-largest school system with 86,000 students. The heart of the CRPE compact seemed reasonable: “Collaborate as partners on the city-wide effort to provide an excellent education for all students.”

What happened next didn’t resemble collaboration at all, but rather outright hostility. As it turns out, no one who signed the CRPE compact actually cared about public education. Instead, their sole focus was forcing the unabated growth of charter schools at the expense of traditional schools.

Political and business interests aligned with the charter movement seized on the CRPE compact to attempt a wholesale privatization of Nashville’s public school system. Some even shamefully referred to their plan as “New Orleans without the hurricane” — a reference to the charterization of Crescent City schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. CRPE, led by pro-privatization director Robin Lake, cheered the effort.

Fortunately, the voters of Nashville ultimately rejected CRPE and Lake’s agenda by overwhelmingly electing and re-electing a strong pro-public education contingent to the Nashville school board. Yet the well-funded CRPE threat persists, in our city and elsewhere in the U.S.

Nationally, CRPE is now aligned with President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In a new report, CRPE urges local school systems to gloss over the negative fiscal impact of charter schools by instead reneging on teacher pension commitments, slowing teacher pay improvements, and undertaking mass closings of traditional schools.

Our view: UW Bothell should consider forming a “Center on Recommitting to Public Education” to counteract the damage done by CRPE. If the turmoil of the past seven years in Nashville is any indication, we’ve had enough of CRPE’s false promise of collaboration. In talking with other school board members around the country, we know many of them feel the same. At the end of the day, CRPE is merely a tool to facilitate the demise of public education.

As observers of education politics and policy, we know that many Washingtonians strongly support public schools and that your state’s voters have spoken at the polls against privatization. With this column, we are hoping that readers — including UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh and UW Bothell faculty — will stand in solidarity with American public education advocates and in opposition to CRPE’s destructive agenda.

Amy Frogge and Will Pinkston are elected members of the Metro Nashville Board of Public Education.

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