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Tue Oct 7, 2014, 08:31 AM

Charles P Pierce- Reading, Writing, Ransacking

These are tough times for education "reformers," those well-meaning, usually wealthy dilettantes who are only making their comfortable living working "for the kids." Michelle Rhee, their warrior queen, has been exposed as an intellectual three-card monte dealer, and has been forced to hand over her sword and buckler to Campbell Brown, a forgettable former CNN anchor Muppet whose dedication to democracy and "transparency" is, well, eccentric at best, as she crusades against teacher tenure so that local school boards -- like the one presently embarrassing itself in Colorado -- can make sure no inconvenient thinking manages to leach into the subject population being experimented upon by the people who pay Brown her salary. Whoever they are. The charter school movement increasingly looks like a Trojan Horse for the corporate education complex -- demanding a complete lack of accountability and ending up, in many cases, as the pedagogical equivalent of a Texas fertilizer plant. This barely concealed strain of authoritarianism -- the lack of accountability, the delicately eliminationist rhetoric aimed at public school teachers, the shadowy donors whom people like Brown decline to reveal, the kleptocratic reliance on corporate money -- is more than sufficiently similar to the way corporations generally have looted the commonwealth to make you wonder if public education isn't headed the way of the country's manufacturing base. But you won't see a clearer example of all of this than the shenanigans that went on in Philadelphia yesterday.

In a closed-door session that lasted 17 minutes and that included a single public comment, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission -- more about them later -- unilaterally blew up the contract under which the Philadelphia teachers union had been operating. In addition to socking the city's teachers for their own health care, the commission also cut off the benefits being paid to retired teachers, most of them elderly, and all of them having worked for years to earn these benefits that yesterday vanished without even the pretense of debate. If this reminds you of what happened to the pensions of firemen in New Jersey, and public workers in Wisconsin, and manufacturing grunts almost everywhere in the private sector, you are unusually sharp this morning and do not need that second cup of coffee. Anyway, the estimable Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News has gone into orbit, and rightly so. As he points out, the SRC has been after doing this kind of thing for a long while:

There are some major work rule changes, too - the one that jumped out at me was teachers no longer being able to use reasonable force to defend themselves. The district would no longer be required to provide copy machines, or "a sufficient number of instructional materials and textbooks." The district would no longer have to provide a teachers' lounge, water fountains, parking facilities, desks for teachers, a designated room for speech and language staff and psychologists or "accommodation rooms" for students with special needs. Counselors would no longer be guaranteed to have rooms with privacy and confidentiality, a telephone, a locked filing cabinet and a door.

No water fountains? Seriously?

The politics of the move are as simple as they are grotesque. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett has the approval rating of malaria right now and, if nothing changes, he's on his way to an historic drubbing in November. Picking this fight may be Corbett's last chance. However, he has picked the fight right in the middle of an ongoing scandal regarding the state's system of charter schools which, because of the same lack of transparency that surrounds Campbell Brown's financial angels and that surrounded the meeting in Philadelphia yesterday, have become a target-rich environment for the accountability-free grifters of the "reform" movement.

more
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Showdown_In_Philadelphia

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Reply Charles P Pierce- Reading, Writing, Ransacking (Original post)
n2doc Oct 2014 OP
MH1 Oct 2014 #1

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Oct 7, 2014, 11:29 AM

1. The Philadelphia-area radio stations are focusing on the health plan aspect.

That the new rules will require Philly teachers to contribute to the cost of their health insurance plan; allegedly just like all or most other teachers in the state.

That is what is being presented as the major effect of this change. I don't recall any of the other items that Chas. P. mentions, being mentioned in our so-called "news" programs.

I guess that bit about retirees losing pensions just isn't considered major.

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