The New York Times published an article today about Joel Klein, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s-appointed Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. This move was originally facilitated in some secret way at some secret venue by billionaire Eli Broad (see article proudly posted on Broad’s Superintendents Academy website).
Here my response:
Has anyone else noticed that our nation's schools are only "failing" in districts which the middle class abandoned long ago? Has anyone else noticed that a small set of extraordinarily powerful people, namely the billionaires Gates, Bloomberg, Broad and the Walton family, and a few assorted millionaires, have now gained control of school districts primarily filled with poor kids?
Has anyone else noticed that the members of these targeted communities are often people who are not sufficiently inclined toward strong democratic engagement, either because they are poorly educated [and have inadequate, or non-existent levels, of English language literacy], &/or because they have a long history of having had their voting rights suppressed, &/or because, as recent immigrants, they are not accustomed and habituated to participation in our American democracy?
Decades ago, BEFORE the schools had gone “bad,” the middle class fled those districts because parents couldn’t deal with their kids being in close proximity to poor, minority kids. When the middle class parents uprooted themselves, their input and support vanished, too. The remaining parent body didn’t have the same sense of know-how and entitlement, or skill set, to steer their schools in a powerful and effective way. Without the pressure for maintaining high standards, the schools were left to languish. That's when they went "bad."
Of course, the only middle class advocates remaining at the schools are the teachers. But whenever they happen to complain about the neglected situation, they are blamed for having “self-interest” and their observations and complaints are totally dismissed.
Now the plantation-owner class of today has arrived to rescue and “fix” the schools. They hire people like Klein and Rhee to be their overseers, and very devoted overseers they are. [Perhaps] Sharpton has been [royally] duped.
No, none of these ruling class people are going to do what actually needs to be done, such as build the parent-citizens’ capacity for asserting themselves and then respond appropriately to those assertions. They refuse to listen deeply to the parents’ complaints, or take them seriously, or work to correct the things parents have been complaining about all along (such as neglected physical plants, [in]adequate staffing, inadequate supplies, lousy school-to-home communication, etc.).
Oh, no. Instead of doing things which will actually empower the schools that exist -- and the citizens who happen to use them -- these managers-of-the-people (who have little experience in such schools and could care less about them) choose to close the schools and demolish the close human connections which have been made there over time. It’s a bit like destroying families. [just like was done during slavery’s days]
That doesn't matter to them because keeping the communities weak and destabilized is the ultimate end that justifies their means. They’ve discovered the alarm that constantly screams out “low test scores!” will keep everyone on edge.
After they neglect the schools, and then close them for the consequences of being neglected, then they offer up a platter of substitute schools -- various versions of privatized “public” schools which have been concocted by their friends. These schools offer parents even less of an opportunity to have any say. So then the package is tied up tidily and stashed away.
This billionaire class wouldn’t dare try this maneuver in other American communities; more empowered people wouldn’t put up with it at all. The BloomKlein approach is happening all over our country (
, , Chicago DC , etc.) and is based on suppression, not encouragement, of the public voice. It is the ultimate threat to our democracy. Oakland
By the way, since Broad played a key role in former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein’s appointment as
schools chancellor, it appears that Klein's $2,000,000 Broad Prize was only a plantation-owner's reward to an overseer’s job well done. Broad’s wealth is listed at $6.7 billion. This means his gift is like a person with a net worth of $50,000 giving $15 to someone they like. If you don’t believe me, do the math yourself. New York
Fight the stranglehold of the billionaire eduphilanthropreneurs* and restore democracy to public education today!
*This might be even better: “the billionaire eduphilanthropists and all their eduentrepreneur friends.”