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Arne Duncan's Race to the Top is "The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick.”

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-03-10 11:33 PM
Original message
Arne Duncan's Race to the Top is "The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick.”
Educator Diane Ravitch worked in the Bush Department of Education. She has completely turned against the current approach to education, and has been having much to say.

Ravitch on NCLB failures and the dangers of privatization.

I find myself agreeing with Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who wrote on Gadfly that this “Race to the Top” program should be called “NCLB 2: The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick.” As a former Bush administration official, he knows what he’s talking about. He likes the Duncan plans, but can’t resist shedding a tear for the death of federalism. Now, says Petrilli, we have entered fully into the age of “Washington Knows Best at its worst.” He writes: “If you found No Child Left Behind prescriptive, just wait till you take a look at this baby.”

To me, the problem here is obvious: What if Washington doesn’t know best? What if the “reform” ideas are wrong?


"What if" is right. At the pace the movement to close public schools and open charter schools is progressing....it will be too late to fix this mistake.

Ravitch further believes that Bush would have tried to impose this agenda, but he did not have as much money....and the Democrats in Congress would have opposed it. So it was left to a Democratic president and a Democratic congress to get the privatization agenda through.

Diane Ravitch answers a blogger

Hi, Fred,

I think that Bush wishes he could have imposed the agenda laid out in Race to the Top, but he would have had to fight against the Democrats in Congress. They would never have supported a plan that bribed states to lift the caps on charter schools–far too intrusive, and many would have seen this as privatization. Nor would they have supported a federal requirement that states remove any legal restriction on linking teacher evaluations to student test scores–not only because it is offensive to teachers, who know that they are not solely responsible for their students’ scores, but because the research does not support this idea.

So, do I think that Duncan is carrying forward Bush’s agenda? Yes, beyond the dreams of Margaret Spellings, and without the opposition of the Democrats in Congress.
But please, tell me, do you think I am wrong? Do you like the fact that a Democratic administration is promoting charters, private management, merit pay, and high-stakes testing for teachers?

Diane Ravitch


She points out one reason that Obama will be more successful than Bush in getting this agenda through. There is far more money to give the schools that comply.

Question: Recently the Obama administration announced the regulations for its $5 billion “Race to the Top” fund. That’s an unprecedented amount of discretionary money. How much was available when you worked in the first Bush Administration?

Ravitch: When I worked at the Department of Education in 1991, we had $10 million in discretionary funds, not $4.3 billion.


That is a whole lot of money.

Here is a quote from her article The Race to Nowhere

In the past few days, Chancellor Joel Klein has announced that he is closing nearly two dozen public schools. Some of these schools are the anchor in their communities; some have long histories as gateways for immigrant children. In recent years, the Department of Education decided that it does not like large high schools, so it has been closing them down and sending their lowest-performing students to other large high schools, which then have lower scores and more disciplinary incidents. Some of the large high schools were beyond saving, but most could have been improved by a thoughtful plan of action, including smaller classes, better supervision, and the kinds of resources that hedge-fund managers pour into "their" charter schools. Unfortunately the data-driven MBAs at central headquarters know nothing about instruction and curriculum or about any strategies that might improve a school. They have no school-improvement strategy. What they know best is how to shut down schools, and in this they will find funding and encouragement from the Obama administration.


And from her book Bridging Differences...a quote I found at the blog of educator Susan Ohanian

"As soon as the central administration decides to close a school, it is a fait accompli. New York City has a rubber-stamp 'board' of 13, with a majority appointed by the mayor, serving at his pleasure; it approves every executive decision, with only a single dissenting vote (the heroic Patrick Sullivan, a public school parent). Public hearings are pro forma; no decision is ever reversed. Parents and teachers may protest 'til the cows come home, and they can't change a thing. Their school will be closed, the low-performing students will be dispersed, and either new small schools or charter schools will take over their building. Some of the schools that will close are, funnily enough, small schools that were opened by Bloomberg and Klein only a few years ago. Does anyone believe that this sorry game of musical chairs will improve education? Does anyone in Washington or at central headquarters grasp the pointlessness of the disruption needlessly inflicted on students, families, teachers, principals, and communities in the name of 'reform'? Do these people have no shame?"

—Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences blog, Dec. 15, 2009


The Broad, Gates, and Walmart corporations have unlimited money to wage the battle against public schools. They form and fund parent groups which work strongly against public education. They pay for advertising, a luxury not afforded the public schools.

I believe Diane Ravitch is right. The privatization of public schools is a fait accompli.

And that is truly a shame.



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Nikki Stone1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-03-10 11:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is when we need protests and to stand with the teachers.
Newspapers are printing hit pieces on teachers and their unions to create doubt in the public mind. I don't know how to do this except stand out there with a sign. Do you have any other ideas?
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-03-10 11:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Teachers are famous for not fighting back....for a very good reason.
They can be marked down on their evaluations. Right now fresh out of ideas. The other side is so powerful they have convinced most of DU convinced as well.
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Nikki Stone1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. It's such a mess.
I appreciate these posts immensely, madfloridian. Even if I can't think about what to do with them right now.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 07:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. but their relatives could. as surrogates. also parent groups, pta etc.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. Teachers could if they have the balls.
Edited on Mon Jan-04-10 11:26 AM by tonysam
They are so chickenshit as a group, it is sickening. All because of the gross power imbalance between principals and other administrators and teachers. They allow it to continue with their silence.

THIS is the REAL problem in public education. Teachers should be able to have free speech without having their careers destroyed.

If you are even so much as written up, the "disciplinary" crapola can follow you everywhere to all 13,000 school districts in the United States. Then you are open to being fired for all kinds of bogus reasons and can never teach again.

No other occupation or sector of the economy has systemwide blackballing. Only public education.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. I was once told not to be so critical of Jeb.
I said some critical words once at the teachers' table at lunch. It was reported to the principal, and I was told it annoyed other teachers to hear him criticized.

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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. I was always warned to stay out of the teachers' lounge.
I lived by that credo. It didn't stop colleagues from lying about me at my termination hearing, but I always believed never to socialize with colleagues in any endeavor.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #14
29. I was told that not everything is political
We were in a leadership team meeting talking about testing and the burden it was placing on our kids. I said we all needed to contact our reps and tell them to amend or throw out NCLB. My principal said "Oh, Proud, not EVERYTHING is political!"
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rwheeler31 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-03-10 11:46 PM
Response to Original message
3. This is the wrong
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 07:48 AM
Response to Original message
5. I wish there were more DUers who were as passionate about school issues
as you and I are.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. They don't care, and then you have apologists
for Obama pushing for Republican-style "reforms" solely because Obama has a "D" after his name.

Outrageous.
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AllentownJake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 07:54 AM
Response to Original message
7. Keep up the good fight Madfloridian
Even if the man we fought for 2 years ago, never intended to fight with us.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
8. MadFL, tell me more about the large high school thing..
I don't like large schools. To me they reek of prison atmosphere, constant ranking and depersonalization of students. Certainly that was the environment at my son's elementary, which is also huge. I attended a public school for only one year in my childhood (in Florida, by the way), and unfortunately it was academically a backwater compared to the Catholic school that I'd attended before and very inferior to the Catholic high school I went to thereafter. But do you defend large schools? I am completely against privatization (piratization!) of public schools, so I agree with you wholeheartedly there. But I wonder if you see a move toward smaller schools as an inherently bad thing. It's my understanding that the move toward very large high schools was decision directed not by parents or local communities, but by behind-the-scenes decision-makers in Washington for their own (probably corporate-driven) agenda.

Not only do large schools depersonalize students, but I suspect they also depersonalize teachers. Teachers ought to be in charge, not treated like serfs or pedagogues by tyrant-principals or by unaccountable bureaucracies.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 11:25 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Ravitch was pointing out much more than large and small schools....
Here is that quote:

"In the past few days, Chancellor Joel Klein has announced that he is closing nearly two dozen public schools. Some of these schools are the anchor in their communities; some have long histories as gateways for immigrant children. In recent years, the Department of Education decided that it does not like large high schools, so it has been closing them down and sending their lowest-performing students to other large high schools, which then have lower scores and more disciplinary incidents. Some of the large high schools were beyond saving, but most could have been improved by a thoughtful plan of action, including smaller classes, better supervision, and the kinds of resources that hedge-fund managers pour into "their" charter schools."

That was not the point, the largeness or smallness. It is about the futility of what they are doing. Instead of supporting public education they are closing schools, not fixing those that can be fixed. Instead of supporting public education they are making the issue so muddy that people do not understand what they are doing....turning schools over to private companies.

The issue is not the size of the school. It is what they are doing to public education.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 03:12 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Well, I'm completely on-board with opposing privatization of public assets
Just like water companies and public highways..the private sector sees it as another opportunity to make a bundle. And in the case of schools, the added "benefit" is the ability to shape the minds of the future in ways that don't threaten the existing power brokers.
So what can we do? What is the most effective way to oppose this?
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erinlough Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. The only people who can stop this are parents of public school kids.
Parents brought the passage of laws to educate special education students because they attacked en-mass. They are the only ones who have the power, period. I am fighting in my state via my teachers union, but the politicians see the promise of money and they are not swayed by what will be best for kids. Parents are not involved in schools in this way. If their children seem to be doing OK at school they are happy and I don't fault them. They are overworked, over scared about everything, many are out of work.

Arne and Barrack will get their way in this and personally I hope it works, because I truly care about the kids and after 35 years of fighting, I'm tired and ready to say maybe they know something I do not. If you ask me this is the stupidest most foolhardy plan I have ever seen. How can privatizing schools, lowering the requirements to become a teacher, paying on a merit pay basis, and testing, testing, testing equate to better education???? It is just stupid, and slick.......but then they must know more than I do about education.....right???
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. You don't want it to work, trust me.
Edited on Mon Jan-04-10 07:44 PM by tonysam
There will be no education left for the masses and only education for the tiny number of wealthy.

That's the way these people want it, and they have bribed politicians to make it happen.
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nyc 4 Biden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #8
26. There is nothing wrong with large schools...
if they are run/funded properly. Some of the best colleges in the country are huge and i don't see anyone trying to shut them down. I attended one of the largest high schools in NYC, Tottenville High School. We had over 4,000 students and I didn't think it was a problem at all. We had great facilities and state of the art programs, like a dental assistant program, mechanic's garage, virtual enterprise program, academy of finance, science institute, humanities institute, a actual small-scale supermarket in the school for students with learning disabilities to train in, among many other excellent programs. I also think larger schools prepare students better for university/the real world by introducing them to a wider diversity of people. I also disagree that it depersonalizes students. There are more students, and thus more groups one can fit into. For example, if you are goth skateboarder but you like to do well in school you can probably find others to identify with in a bigger school rather than a smaller one.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #26
31. Maybe I should be more open-minded about it. If we had an obsessive focus on "dignity"
as an organizing principle for our mass institutions.. Someone posted some poetry here a day or two ago, a blog, and it talked about being in favor of "dignitarianism" instead of "rankism". I thought that might be hitting the nail on the head toward a lot of issues in our society today.
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nyc 4 Biden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-06-10 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. Good point. Dignity is key.
:toast:
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 11:18 AM
Response to Original message
9. Yep, that's the truth,
Bush couldn't have passed this sort of measure without opposition from the Dems. But now that it's the Obama administration doing this, hey, the shredding of our public school system can continue and grow.

One more reason that I won't be voting for Obama again in '12, this issue effects me personally and I can't simply give my implied acquiescence by voting for the man again.
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Overseas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 11:28 AM
Response to Original message
13. K&R. /nt
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 03:45 PM
Response to Original message
17. This whole train should be opposed but there are enough corporate Democrats
and Republicans to get it over the top with a ready and willing Democratic President to sign it into law.

Sadly, the only way to stop this is that both enough Democrats will rebel against this crap and enough Republicans hate any form of public education enough to oppose any Federal effort whatsoever, even if it is actually fitting with their goals. My feeling though is that there will be wide "bipartisan" support of no less than 30 Republicans willing to work with the President and that between the stooges and some automatically loyal Democrats to shoot this garbage on through.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. The propaganda against public schools...
has been so prolonged and powerful that I don't think we can stop it. It is like a machine, a steam roller.

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Dinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-04-10 08:49 PM
Response to Original message
21. K & R. madfloridian Should Be The Education Secretary
That is all.:headbang: :yourock:
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
22. What the hell is Obama supporting here, this is a terrible direction to go in.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. He's supporting wholesale privatization of public education
Edited on Tue Jan-05-10 12:07 AM by tonysam
He's big on charter schools, merit pay, standardized testing, and every other thing that USED to be anathema to Democrats, to liberals, to anybody who cares about democracy.

Privatization of public education is happening at an astonishing speed.

Take a look over at the education forum; there are dozens and dozens of threads about the wrongheaded turn this country is taking on education.

It can no longer be pinned on Bush.
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Mithreal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 01:35 AM
Response to Original message
24. Thank you
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w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 02:06 AM
Response to Original message
25. I'm extremely scared about the direction Obama is taking us on education.
Edited on Tue Jan-05-10 02:09 AM by w4rma
And I'm getting even more scared about the lack of outcry from way too many on the left about it because they

a) don't want to believe Obama would pull this BS.
b) don't want to give ammo to the right.

We're in BIG trouble on this. He's doing something the far-right has been salivating over and he's getting away with it because liberals aren't making a big enough deal about this!
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clear eye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. kick
:kick:
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. There is no outcry against it. Reagan's propaganda has worked.
http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/4966

"Three years into his first term Mr. Reagan's criticism of public education reached a crescendo when he hand picked a "blue ribbon" commission that wrote a remarkably critical and far-reaching denunciation of public education. Called "A Nation At Risk," this document charged that the US risked losing the economic competition among nations due to a "... rising tide of (educational) mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." (The commissioners did not consider the possibility that US firms were uncompetitive because of corporate mismanagement, greed and short sightedness.)After "A Nation At Risk" the nation's public schools were fair game for every ambitious politician or self-important business boss in the country. Its publication prompted a flood of follow-up criticism of public education as "blue ribbon" and "high level" national commissions plus literally hundreds of state panels wrote a flood of reform reports. Most presupposed that the charges made by Mr. Reagan's handpicked panel were true. Oddly though, throughout this entire clamor, parental confidence in the school's their children attended remained remarkably high. Meanwhile Mr. Reagan was quietly halving federal aid to education.

That sums up Mr. Reagan's educational legacy. As governor and president he demagogically fanned discontent with public education, then made political hay of it. As governor and president he bashed educators and slashed education spending while professing to valued it. And as governor and president he left the nation's educators dispirited and demoralized."
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-05-10 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #28
30. And he was in office immediately AFTER the 70s when white parents pulled their kids out
of public schools and formed private academies. They also began pressuring their reps for financial aid for their private schools. Reagan and his crew knew that wouldn't fly so they began dismantling public education instead.
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