Monday, December 15, 2008

PALAST: Why is Obama considering GOP scammer for Secretary of Education?

Obama is considering Joel Klein for Secretary of Education. Klein has no background in education and fired teachers while wasting billions on software and "consultants" for the GOP-backed testing obsession after being appointed by Michael Bloomberg to run New York City schools.

Americans rejected failed Republican ideas on foreign policy, economics, and human rights when we elected Obama. It would be fair to assume that Republican ideas on education belong on the toilet of history as well.

I teach community college and my fiancee teaches middle school special education, and a choice like this would be demoralizing.

Why do Democrats tolerate the appointment of those who know nothing about education as superintendents, chancellors, and even secretary of education?

Even those with degrees in public administration seem to do about as much good as MBA's have done to Wall Street and American business in general. Their bean counting expertise is needed, but when they are not subordinate to those who actually know and care about the product, in our case education, they do exactly what they did to Enron, subprime mortgages, and the American auto industry. They cook the books to create the illusion of success while crippling the institution's ability to fulfill its actual function. In K-12 education, this is done with endless testing and accountability for teachers that amounts to a mountain of paperwork that takes longer to fill out than grading papers and writing lesson plans, rather than mandating smaller class sizes and providing effective ways to deal with students too unruly to be in regular classes or even be on the playground with other kids.

For those of us in higher education, this process is just beginning with nonsense about "student learning outcomes" that duplicate course objectives. Next will come the paperwork on how well you comply, standardized tests to grade your work, and standardized curriculum, sold by the politically well-connected.

If Obama appoints this guy as Secretary of Education, who Michael Bloomberg previously appointed to run New York schools, it will be an endorsement of continuing this attack on education rather than a repudiation.

Why not pick someone who is an excellent teacher, and make these bean counters their lieutenants instead of continuing to pick those more qualified to help Walmart figure out new ways to screw their employees?

This is worth contacting Obama and telling him we want real change, not a new face to sell an old scam:



Obama's "Way-to-Go, Brownie!" Moment?

by Greg Palast
for the Huffington Post

But here we go again. Trial balloons lofted in the Washington Post suggest President-elect Obama is about to select Joel Klein as Secretary of Education. If not Klein, then draft-choice number two is Arne Duncan, Obama's backyard basketball buddy in Chicago.

Klein, who lacks even six minutes experience in the field, was handed management of New York's schools by that political Jack-in-the-Box, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor is one of those businessmen-turned-politicians who think lawyers and speculators can make school districts operate like businesses.

Klein has indeed run city schools like a business - if the business is General Motors. Klein has flopped. Half the city's kids don't graduate.

Klein is out of control. Not knowing a damn thing about education, rather than rely on those who actually work in the field (only two of his two dozen deputies have degrees in education), Klein pays high-priced consultants to tell him what to do. He's blown a third of a billion dollars on consultant "accountability" projects plus $80 million for an IBM computer data storage system that doesn't work.

What the heck was the $80 million junk computer software for? Testing. Klein is test crazy. He has swallowed hook, line and sinker George Bush's idea that testing students can replace teaching them. The madly expensive testing program and consultant-fee spree are paid for by yanking teachers from the classroom.

Ironically, though not surprisingly, test scores under Klein have flat-lined. Scores would have fallen lower, notes Jane Hirschmann, head of watchdog group Time Out From Testing, but Klein "moved the cut score," that is, lowered the level required to pass. In other words, Klein cheats on the tests.

Nevertheless, media poobahs have fallen in love with Klein, especially Republican pundits.The New York Times' David Brooks is championing Klein, hoping that media hype for Klein will push Obama to keep Bush schools policies in place, trumping the electorate's choice for change.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please research the Gate's Foundation. In every state in the Union education and transportation are the major public domain expenditures. The national total for schools exceed $500 billion annually. It is not difficult to understand why rapacious billionaires, authoritarian religions, politicians and Wall Street speculators would get all moist over a chance to ravage it in the name of helping poor kids and the selfless piety of educational reform.