[MKE - Indymedia] spellings data
pryz1 at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 28 08:52:48 PDT 2005
(Published in educationnews.org commentary June 21, 2005)
Spellings: In God we trust; all others bring data
By Daniel Pryzbyla
Speaking at the recent annual Indiana High School Summit, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings stated it was an old Texas saying. Alluding to Enrons collapse in Houston, TX? Not likely.
No sense taking data outside the classroom into that other real life out here. Any Hoosier educators attending the Redesigning Indianas High Schools confab in Indianapolis June 14, 2005, who might also have had shares in Enron, would have to keep their blinders on and tongues tied. They swallowed hard when seeing the title of her discourse: Seeing the Data, Meeting the Challenge. Enron investors had a slight reprieve seeing the business news a few days earlier June 10, 2005. Citigroup Inc. had agreed to pay $2 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by Enron shareholders and bondholders who accused the firm of helping the collapsed energy trader hide its financial problems, reported Crains New York Business. The public domain offers greater accessibility; but here too data can be kept secretive. Her predecessor when he was superintendent in Houston public schools was accused of hiding some education data while trumpeting his education Texas Miracle. But she wasnt about to muddy the data waters with that, instead remaining focused on the No Child Left Behind education acts next target high-stakes testing and sanctions for high schools.
President Bush believes, as do you and I, that students in any school large or small, urban, rural or suburban have every right to dream big, said Spellings. We believe that every single child can learn in class and succeed in life that their destiny does not depend on geography or skin color. Instead, it depends on the three Ds: desire, discipline and determination. After pausing, she declared, Let me add a fourth D data. Tardy to class, Margaret. Corporate alpha males had already been there, done that.
Congress passed the Goals 2000 Educate America act in March 1994. Within a month of its passage, wrote Mike Ferner of Program on Corporation, Law and Democracy, in its summer 2000 newsletter, the ideological foundation of Goals 2000 was revealed in Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in Americas Public Schools. It was co-authored by Louis Gerstner, then CEO of IBM. Gerstner and his corporate colleagues define students as human capital, urging schools to compare themselves to each other as Xerox compares itself to L.L. Bean for inventory control. A Goals 2000 follow-up meeting 2 years later in 1996 wasnt even held in a typical hotel conference setting, but a more conducive hideout IBM headquarters. Fortune 500 planning committee members included luminaries from IBM, Eastman Kodak and Proctor & Gamble. Privatization zealots from the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation attended as resources to promote their conservative education reform agenda.
With all that human capital in Title 1 public schools, data banks would be critical apparatus. Thanks to No Child Left behind, were no longer flying blind, echoed Spellings. This is the time of the year when our schools release their adequate yearly progress (AYP) data. That data help states target their finite resources to the classrooms where the need is greatest and most urgent. Whos really flying blind here? While Spellings was singing sweet nothings to attendees, charter and voucher vultures were already circling NCLB sanctioned public schools.
Her rosy script was filled with thorns. Tight budgets in Wisconsin and other states made their finite resources impossible to be targeted where the need is greatest and most urgent. At current budget hearings in Madison, her Republican legislative fan club is bent on undermining public education funding. While Democratic Governor Jim Doyle proposed to boost public school state funding back to its original 2/3 level, Spellingss NCLB supporters are demanding no increases. Most affected will be Title 1 school districts, especially Milwaukee, already designated by reform sharks as an education flower-pot experiment for their human capital data banks. Hearings on MPS proposed 2005-06 school year budget have already been held. Even with Doyles proposal, cutbacks in education programs, schools, and the loss of 136 more teaching positions are scheduled. Probably unknown by Spellings, former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson yes, the same person President Bush appointed director of Health and Human Services during his first term supported and enacted the similar 2/3 state education funding formula.
If the Republican majority proposal for no increased funding is passed, the current MPS budgets finite resources become moot. According to MPS data, $24.3 million would have to be cut for the 2005-06 school year; and a projected $48.9 million for 2006-07. Funding would be back on the chopping block not where the need is greatest and most urgent. Even if theres a political agreement to raise per student spending, but less than Gov. Doyles modest proposal to its original 2/3 level, MPS projected budgets would have to be retooled, cutting education programs and/or personnel. Obsessed with high-stakes testing data solving districts from flying blind, the reality is public school finite resources are being slashed, leaving Spellings flying blind instead.
Originally focused on grades K-8, NCLB hustlers have now advanced their draconian sanction schemes to high-schools. Stalled because of the unexpected backlash against privatization of Social Security, Spellings now had to rekindle the high-school coals. The president and I believe it is time to introduce the principles of No Child Left Behind to grades 9-12, she gleamed. We have every right to demand that graduates in Indiana and elsewhere be given the skills to compete in the world and not just be socially promoted to life. I know you agree, or you wouldnt be here today. But nobody knew what she was going to say before they had even arrived. Maybe they came because its just another annual Indiana high-school summit they attend every year. Why should everyone in attendance necessarily agree with what she said or (they) wouldnt be here? Maybe some were ordered to attend by their supervisors. Mrs. Jones at Hoosier High is having a baby. Not attending meant she didnt agree? Yeah, she went into labor early too, so she didnt have to show up.
After listening to the NCLB fan club long enough, you begin to hear the same recordings over, and over, and over, and over. Its the age-old marketing gimmick; repeat, repeat, repeat. A consistent drumbeat of NCLB marketplace strategy is dumbing-down certified, qualified, experienced education professionals in public schools. Packaging arrogance taught at CEO reform academies, they act as if theyve reinvented the wheels of learning. Their fantasies include driving in demolition derbies. Their favorite toys are bulldozers and wrecking balls. Hundreds of new practices (reforms) that have been introduced in public education throughout past decades are deemed meaningless, outdated. Targeting Title 1 public schools, their human capital privatization bulldozes forward, wearing the label of education reform.
Of social promotion, who is Spellings to complain? Shes the political candy-stripe who has been socially promoted to Secretary of Education because of her long-standing political association with her boss, George W. Spellings displayed another social promotion educator onto the dance floor during her high-school prom in Indianapolis. The high-school model of today is not much different from that of our grandparents day, said the education chief. As Bill Gates has said, Training the workforce of tomorrow with todays high-schools is like trying to teach kids about todays computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. Anybody have any idea how the college drop-out made it into the NCLB education club? Hint: Be a multi-(b)illionaire, set up an education foundation for a tax write-off, and toss Title 1 public school districts millions of dollars to implement his small high-schools experiments within existing large public high schools. Of course, with this brainstorm will come his Microsoft monopoly system into the classrooms to help facilitate the technology learning, testing, teacher training in specialized programs, and school district data processing for NCLB needs. Strangely, nobody is asking why Gatess small high-schools are needed in Title 1 districts, but not in the mostly Anglo, suburban middle and upper-middle class large high-schools with student populations numbering 1,500 to 3,000 students. Could it be because of mounting (shh, hush now
dont go there
) socioeconomic inequalities?
I am encouraged by the unity Ive seen today and throughout my brief tenure as secretary, proclaimed Spellings. While we may feel occasional gusts of opposition, the prevailing wind continues to point toward reform. First they call their education reform marketplace competition. Now she complains of opposition. Sounds like shes being tutored by college drop-out Monopoly Bill.
Maybe a reformed Texas data punch line too: In God we trust; follow the money.
pryz1 at earthlink.net
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