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Re: [nyceducationnews] Re: NYT: The HIgh Turnover at Charter Schools + Cantor Sings on Labor Day + NYT: Love for Labor Lost

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  • Diane Ravitch
    Arjun, Please read my new book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America s Public Schools Anyone who remains ignorant
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 2, 2013

      Please read my new book "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools"

      Anyone who remains ignorant prefers to be

      Diane Ravitch

      On Sep 2, 2013, at 4:16 PM, Arjun Janah <sjanah@...> wrote:


      Thanks, J Stan. I would try to change the words, but my abilities are limited and now the new term is upon us, and I have never been less ready.

      So I will click on the links and listen to the songs later.

      Billy Joel may not know what's been happening in the schools over the past many decades, with the situation getting much worse (in my opinion) over the last decade.

      That is a long narrative that the public (and the elite, including "progressives") have not been following and so do not understand. Instead, they see what is reported here in the Post, the News, the Times and the newly-popularized WSJ (for those who can afford the last two), with two of these owned by Murdoch and the others, esp. the Times, hardly union-friendly. I have listed two local rags and two that have national circulation. The TV and radio are worse. Yes, there are bright spots, and especially on the Internet, but viewership/readership is very limited. The ones who valiantly try tell the truth (like Valerie Strauss in her Washington Postt blog, along with quite a few others) are, sadly, mostly preaching to the choir.

      Joel Klein had been doing the University circuit. I ran into a Stanford grad student who was idealistic about K-12 education, being about to go on a prestigious fellowship to the U.K. She waxed indignant at the "incompetence of the teachers in the public schools", and rhapsodized about Klein's inspiring address to the student body.  So you see how the new generation of accomplished students is being brainwashed. From these will come the ones who lead this country in diverse ways and so decide on policies, including those that affect the schools.

      It isn't just Stanford on the west coast.  Bloomberg addressed the graduating class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and stated that half of the teachers in NYC are incompetent and that we would be better off if these were fired, with the ones remaining received double pay. In one stroke, he demonstrated:

      (a)  his contempt for working teachers;
      (b)  his ignorance of the basics of how schools work
            (Imagine genius-teachers teaching classes of 70 kids, with a total student-load of 350 per teacher in the high schools);
      (c)  his own incompetence to be in control, as mayor (thanks to our union's earlier acquiescence) of the schools in NY City.

      But did we see even a token walkout by teachers demanding an apology? Or any kind of forceful and sustained outrage expressed in the media?  Imagine if he had said this about bankers, lawyers, or even journalists.

      Michelle Rhee was ousted when Mayor Fenty was given the boot in D.C. But both of them had strong support from the establishment in the Washington, D.C. area.  It was the parents, mostly African American, who had some direct knowledge of what was going on in the schools who threw out Fenty. But Rhee's shadow remains in D.C. and now she has been set free on a national stage. She had, as you know, been celebrated in the national media and had been praised by both Republican and Democratic leaders, including Obama.  This is not to deny that the D.C. schools were troubled before her entry, just as the schools here in NY City were, long before Bloomberg and Klein.  But do you cure one disease with another -- especially one far worse, effectively lethal? 

      Here in NY, the spineless chief of the state education establishment, after a few troubled nights, agreed to give Cathy Black, of Cosmo magazine fame (peddling 21st century sexual obsession and more) a waiver to head the NY city schools. Oprah Winfrey voiced her support. Again, it was not the teacher's union (which Cathy Black now predictably blames) that led the charge against her. It was outraged parents.

      One cannot perpetually play defense. The case is strong and common-sense, humane solutions (or at least great ameliorations) to the problems that have plagued K-12 education in many school districts have always been at hand. When will the offense begin, and when will the case be presented directly and strongly to the public (bypassing the elite and the power-structures) so that these old problems and all the new ones that so many of the "reformers" have created can finally be addressed, so sincere students get a chance to quietly learn and sincere teachers a chance to quietly teach, without impossible distractions? When will the scam come to an end?  Most students have but one chance to get a decent formal education, preparing them to survive in our complex society and economy and to be informed citizens,  and teachers have but one lifetime in which to provide this formal education.

      With apologies for the rant. But there is a point at which endlessness finessing and cynicism become criminal activities.

      But teachers are apathetic as regards collective action to stem the tide of scams, be it in a department, a school, a school system or nationally.  Only 18% of active teachers (that is, not retirees) voted in the recent union (UFT) elections in NYC.  And there is no major national party extant, for historical reasons, that truly represents workers, who are ever more divided among themselves. 

      So I can type and send out verses till my fingers cramp, and it will be of no use. It's like dropping pennies into a deep, soundless well.

      Perhaps you are right, we should get hold of Billy Joel. At least his songs were popular.  I'm serious.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: J Stan <timemight@...>
      To: sjanah <sjanah@...>
      Cc: Grassroots-Education <Grassroots-Education@...>; NYCoREUpdates <NYCoREUpdates@yahoogroups.com>; nyceducationnews <nyceducationnews@yahoogroups.com>; pubedco <pubedco@...>; ice-mail <ice-mail@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Mon, Sep 2, 2013 11:48 am
      Subject: Re: NYT: The HIgh Turnover at Charter Schools + Cantor Sings on Labor Day + NYT: Love for Labor Lost

      Hey Arjun,

      Those are interesting words.... 

      Can you change the words of Billy Joel's "Allentown" song to suit the school situation?

      The lines, "Closing all the factories down" & "union people throw it away," seem to fit the situation. 

      He also has another song of struggle 
      called, "Downeaster Alexa." 

      Both lyrics seem to relate to what is happening in our times to education as well as the plight and struggle of workers today. 

      Maybe Billy Joel can make a song about education? Can someone ask him? 

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