Monthly Archives: September 2014
Where are all the advocates of “school choice” when inner city parents and students organize in defense of their neighborhood schools threatened with closing, as they have done in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and now Newark? Somehow, they only mobilize when inner parents want charters or vouchers. They have no problem with Mayors and Governors shutting down public schools that have been community institutions for decades over the protests of principals, teachers, and parents, and even suspending principals for speaking out as Chris Christie’s hand picked Superintendent Cami Anderson has done in Newark.
This is rank hypocrisy
If you are going to support “school choice” you should also support the right of parents to attend well funded local public schools which have had a historic relationship to the neighborhoods they are located in. But when your funding comes from hedge fund billionaires, the Waltons or Bill Gates, you are going to only support the kind of “choice” that fits their agenda of privatization and competition.
It is your right to be selective about which community voices you choose to promote.
But standing silent when equally legitimate community voices are suppressed, or even encouraging and participating in their suppression, as Michelle Rhee or New York State Education Commissioner John King have done, give the lie to your pretension to be exponents of the nation’s great Civil Rights traditions.
Los Angeles Unified School District Stonewalls Researcher Asking for Demographic Data on Its PAR Program
One of the unacknowledged tragedies in education policy is the United States is the systematic marginalization and forced retirement of a generation of veteran teachers, many of them teachers of color, who could play a valuable role in helping young teachers adapt to the challenges of their new job. Done in the name of “improving teacher quality,” a variety of strategies have been implemented which have directly or indirectly forced the firing of veteran teachers or pushed them into a reserve labor pool. One such strategy, approved by the major national teachers unions, has been PAR the Peer Assisance and Review Program. Originated with the professed goal of identifying low performing teachers and giving them the help they need to improve their skills, the program has, in all too many school districts, been implemented in such a way as to allow school districts to sharply cut costs by removing teachers with the most seniority and highest salaries.
One of the scholars who has done the most to reveal the discriminatory dimensions of PAR, as it has been implemented in California School Districts, is BAT Research Team member Brian Crowell., Looking at data in the Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco school districts, Brian Crowell has not only documented a sharp decline in the percentage of Black teachers in all three districts in the last ten years, he has gathered data from the PAR program in all three districts which show that teachers with the greatest seniority have been the ones overwhelmingly placed in that program, making a prima facie case for age discrimination, and quite possibly race discrimination, that may well be the subject of future litigatio
Now Brian Crowell has turned his attention to the Los Angeles Unified School District and has asked for demographic data on teachers in their PAR program. After being stonewalled for several weeks, he received a letter saying he would have to pay $1,200 for the information he requested. Clearly the LAUSD is not anxious to have this data made public. Which suggests that they are not anxious for people to see the age and race distribution of teachers referred to PAR. Here is Brian Crowell’s memo on his Los Angeles data request: