Friday, September 11, 2015

Will Black Lives Matter Change School Reformers?

As with most headlines posed as questions, the answer is probably no.

However, there are some important connections that should be interesting to watch. Most clearly, from my vantage point on the internet, is Campaign Zero, which has set itself up as the wonkier branch of BLM. They've released a 10-point agenda to "end police violence in America," which looks sound and well thought out on the whole. Three quarters, at least, of their planning team have heavy school reform connections. I'm assuming right now that this all seems consistent to them, but I have to wonder how it will play out over the next five to ten years.

Consider their first point "end broken windows policing." OK, but don't "no excuses" charters practice the disciplinary equivalent? Isn't pushing students out of charters into district schools that are made up of charter school lottery-losers, transients and charter-rejects the clearest manifestation of a school to prison pipeline?

Number two is "community oversight." Haven't charters and increased federal and state regulation, such as the SIG program, imposed by reformers, dramatically decreased community oversight of urban schools?

Why should we "Increase the number of police officers who reflect the communities they serve," when reformers have pushed policies that clearly would and did decrease the same for teachers? Why shouldn't we have "Police for America" recruiting Ivy League grads into police academies?

Why would we think "invest(ing) in rigorous and sustained training" works for cops but not teachers?

Why is for-profit policing bad but for-profit educational entities ok? Why is it ok that prominent charter schools fine low income students for behavior issues?

How can you attack the militarization of police while accepting a school reform agenda that in some cities embraces military-style schools?

The clearest point of consistency between Campaign Zero's agenda and the school reform agenda is pushing back against public sector unions. They will certainly find that the police union has sharper elbows than the teachers'.

How these dissonances will play out over time, I don't know, particularly when there is such an imbalance in wealth and power backing the two reform agendas. If you gain some prominence as a school reformer, you're set for life. Police brutality activists, not so much. It will be interesting to watch.

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