Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Truth Behind Reform Speak: Minneapolis Version

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The Truth Behind Reform Speak: Minneapolis Version


This week Minneapolis Public Schools unveiled its latest version of these reforms under the title, “The Time is Now to Shift.”  The Superintendent invited “all stakeholders” to come and hear the “new” plan and get involved.  Unfortunately, the great unveiling took place at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning, which meant teachers and most parents were unable to attend.  Perhaps we are not “stakeholders.”

I think it is important for those of us fighting the corporate reformers, and fighting for strong public schools, to recognize the reform plans in all their various disguises.  While the Superintendent’s speech detailing “the shift” is now available on district’s website, PEJAM is providing the corporate reformer’s outline version of the speech without the extra packaging.

Watch for a version of this near you!



Title: The Time has Come to Double-down on Corporate Reforms! (Call it a “shift”)

Part 1: The current situation according to Gates, Broad, Walton, etc.
·      Generous Greeting of fellow reformers
·      Platitudes
·      Outline speech
·      Platitudes
·      Platitudes
·      Platitudes
·      Platitudes
·      Claim we have tried the “extremes” of top-down and bottom-up operations and declare that both have failed.  We must now take a  “new” approach which means going with the only tried and failed top-down structure, but call it a “partnership.”
·      Share statistics without any meaningful context
·      Platitudes
·      Throw in backhanded praise for teachers
·      Platitudes
·      Declare test-prep charter schools as success stories, and that that will “soon be our norm.”
·      Throw in business jargon
·      Quote Martin Luther King Jr.

Part 2: The “New” Plan
·      Emphasize high standards for all
·      Explain how we will fix teachers
o   Implement flawed and burdensome teacher evaluation and VAM
o   Implement a test-driven, teacher-proof, standardized curriculum (Minneapolis calls it “Focused Instruction”)
o   Explain why there needs to be a strong leader in the “partnership,” and that this will be accomplished by following a TFA approach to principals.  Use a double-dose of TFA jargon for the title of the new principal training program
·      Include a reference to “choice.”
·      Highlight of the plan is a “Strong Partnership.”  (definition of Strong Partnership: a relationship in which one side concedes that the district “partner” is always right, doesn’t argue with the district “partner,” and always does what they are told to do.)

Part 3: Solve Problems by Gutting the Teachers’ Contract
·      Cut Seniority and Tenure Rights!
·      Tagline – “It’s time to shift.” (Wait for applause!)
·      Take away more of the teachers’ personal and family time without concern for burn-out and without fair compensation.
·      Tagline – “It’s time to shift.” (Wait for applause!)
·      Create teacher hierarchy that pits teachers against one another and call it a “career ladder” (because teachers go into teaching hoping to climb away from the students).
·      Tagline – “It’s time to shift.” (Wait for applause!)
·      Cut teacher and staff pay and benefits.  Introduce a merit pay system, but call it being a “good steward of resources.”
·      Tagline – “It’s time to shift.” (Wait for applause!)

Part 4: The Rollout and Big Finish
·      Implement the draconian reforms, first, on the schools with the highest need kids and most beaten-down teachers.
·      “Invite” people to “partner” with you by following your plan.
·      Platitudes
·      Platitudes
·      Message of Urgency
·      Appeal to Emotions
·      Tagline – “Together…we must shift!” (Wait for applause)
·      Wait for results…
·      Wait for results…
·      Wait…


1 comment:

Mr. Portelos said...

7:30 am meeting for stakeholders? Perfect timing to exclude people.

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