Who would have ever thought?
One pug-ugly Republican known for his right-wing rants, Newt Gingrich, and the other the handsome, debonair Democrat know-nothing, Arne Duncan. Could these boys be twins separated at birth?
One grows up to be a ultra conservative, serial monogamist and the other a basketball player with Ivy League crony connections who is handed the CEO title of a major urban school district. One grew up to marry his high school math teacher and the other has his former teachers at the University of Chicago Lab School (home of John Dewey) sending him regular hate mail.
But in today’s corporate reform circles, these boys, Newt and Arne, play on the same team. It’s called separate and unequal treatment for poor kids, also known as disruptive education reform.
Disruptive education reform, cataloged under “Broad, Eli,” is the new Jim Crow. Strange thing about this new version of Jim Crow. We have no politicians of either persuasion speaking out against it.
That’s because we have NO politicians in this country representing poor kids and their parents. Instead, we have Wall St. billionaires holding most of our national politicians right in their pockets, just like we have millionaires here in Dallas, Texas, holding seven of nine votes on the school board.
Silicon Valley loves the new Jim Crow. They think it’s a new technology market being pushed open by Bill Gates under the guise of “personalized learning.” A little drip of funding in Dallas, Texas was all it took for the Gates Foundation to be back-dooring tax money to Microsoft through a tiny amount of venture philanthropy.
Strange thing about venture philanthropy. It has all the appearance of one hand feeding the other. Gates gives to his Foundation which pumps out research supporting blended learning models which actually warehouse kids with computers to make public education more “efficient.” For Microsoft and Bill Gates, it’s a win/win.
This notion of sticking 100-150 kids in a big room with a few teachers and lots of computers caught Newt’s attention. He was immediately enthralled. In the strange new universe of Jim Crow segregation for public school kids, Newt’s love of blended learning put him right in Arne Duncan’s political bed.
The new Jim Crow version of public education for poor kids is only inclusive in that it appeals to both political parties. It gives bragging rights to some Republicans for starving public education. Yet, it allows such a huge amount of wiggle space for locals like Raphael Anchia who consider themselves modern day reformers while remaining in the pockets of former Goldman Sachs partners.
In the new Jim Crow, all politicians agree on two things: their kids won’t attend public schools with poor children and poor kids deserve a qualitatively different school experience than their own children.
And so, with clear conscience, Arne, Newt, Anchia, and Solis set about punishing the teachers of poor children by increasing class sizes, micromanaging instruction, and eliminating any joy in learning.
Dear Arne sets the tone at the top. Arne is in favor of anything that Big Venture Money likes because Arne knows the clock is ticking on his time playing the role of Secretary of Education, and at some point he has to go get a real job, or what passes for a real job in crony, Ivy League circles. To make sure he has a soft landing, in a few years, Arne is bringing his future job network right into the White House while Arne still has some pull.
So instead of public school educators with decades of experience in real classrooms leading the Department of Education, Arne is gravitating toward entrepreneurs who want the doors of public schools brunt-forced opened to them. After all, who are the kings of entrepreneurship other than the titans of Silicon Valley who just payed fines for non-competitive employment practices?
Which all brings us to Rocketship and its brand of warehouse charter schools. Anyone with a browser, might want to investigate Dallas ISD’s personalized learning thrust and find that former Rocketship entrepreneur playing on the same team as some of our local corporate reformers.
We don’t need to name them. They are the heads of a local brand of charter schools where they wouldn’t send their own kids.
They make up our local corporate education PACs.
They gather over at the Teaching Trust at SMU or at Leadership DISD.
They think they are leading the new civil rights movement of our time.
The irony of a bunch of bored, rich, white boys leading a movement that further segregates the mainly minority poor in our public schools and feeds them uncertified teachers, inexperienced principals, and 24/7 chaos on campuses and at 3700 Ross Avenue might be laughable, but it is the reality of disruptive reform in Dallas public schools.
So the next time Todd Williams wants to crunch data to show how poorly public schools in Dallas County are performing while at the same time pulling every political string he can to keep Mike Miles in power, ask Todd where his own children attend school.
Ask him about the double digit years of experience and the number of graduate degrees expected for teachers of the children of the wealthy in Dallas, Texas. Ask him how much of the disruptive chaos spread by Mike Miles invades the education of his own children. Ask Todd why his own children don’t attend his racially segregated charters since they do such an excellent job of college preparation.
Expect Todd Williams for once to shut his mouth.
The reality of the new Jim Crow compared to the reality of the education for the wealthy simply isn’t discussed by Todd Williams, or Arne, or Newt or Anchia anymore than any of the Silicon Valley titans want their special brand of education for the poor branded as the new Jim Crow.
But here in Dallas, on this teacher blog where the pernicious effects of Bill Gates dollars don’t reach, we are going to open a discussion of reality of the new Jim Crow and its formal and informal leaders here in Dallas.
Expect the squirming to begin.