Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Do You Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Co-Opted?

The big story in school reform in 2012 was the one-sided preponderance of evidence that school reform is, in fact, a conspiracy of elites. The main argument against calling it a conspiracy is the relative lack of secrecy, as in "It can't be a secret if everybody at the NSVF Forum knows about it!" If elite Republicans conspire with Democrats, it is still a conspiracy. If you're conspiring to counter the voice of workers, it is still a conspiracy.

The Jersey Jazzman last week had one of the best posts of the year along these lines:

First: why was (Facebook COO) Sandberg so intimately involved in a donation Mark Zuckerberg - not Facebook, but Zuckerberg - was making? Obviously, she felt that the optics of the donation were going to reflect on Facebook somehow; she was particularly concerned with making sure that Zuckerberg did not look like he was coming into Newark and usurping the will of the common folk.

Read the whole thing.

Or this one from Jonathan Pelto today:

On May 29, 2012, Governor Malloy’s education reform bill became Public Act 12-116.

Twenty-four hours later, Malloy was ensconced at the 10,000 square foot, $8.5 million, Greenwich, Connecticut home of corporate education reform financier Jonathan Sackler for a fundraiser that netted the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee more than $41,000.

What we haven't seen much of is idealistic grassroots activists expressing shock and disappointment in being roped into a giant grift that has nothing to do with helping kids.

Maybe the problem is that there are just aren't any idealistic grassroots activists pushing for school reform, beyond parents not looking beyond the hope of a better school for their kid and people whose "ideals" include union busting.

There have been rifts within the charter community between the "traditional" mom and pop charters and the new CMO/EMO models. Expect those disputes to intensify somewhat.

To be sure, there are plenty of parent activists who feel like their city hall and school district leadership have been co-opted by corporate reformers; there are plenty of union activists who feel like their leadership has been co-opted; there are plenty of teachers who feel like their professional organizations (NCTE...) have been co-opted. And they're all willing to make some noise about it.

2013 will be the year that these issues soak down into whatever grassroots support there is for reform beyond anti-unionism. You may think it has been obvious all along, but a year ago, even as I opposed the Achievement First proposal for RI, I didn't really see them as corrupt and predatory as I do now.

And while blogging, tweeting, etc., are a weak form of activism, one thing we can do is make sure that reformers have to confront these stories as much as possible. I know I wouldn't want to have to constantly defend/justify/rationalize this crap.

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