This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
Sometimes an idea is just too stupid to keep it all to yourself.
Ask Arne Duncan.
Sitting at his lonely desk as managing partner of the Emerson Collective, a limited liability corporation pushing school and immigration policy, he must have missed his days as President Barack Obama’s Education Secretary.
As a result, the more than 400,000 students, 37.7% of which are black and more than 80% of which are poor, have struggled academically.
How would Arne help them? Make them submit more paperwork in order to get a diploma. They must prove that after 12th grade they’re going to college, trade school, an internship, the military or would otherwise be gainfully employed. OR ELSE they can’t graduate!
“Some people worry that raising graduation standards will cause more young people to drop out, but they’re wrong,” he wrote. “Young people don’t drop out because school is too hard. They drop out because it is too easy and they are not engaged. They don’t understand how it’s relevant to their lives.”
Wrong, Arne. It’s not a matter of school being too easy. It’s a matter of life being too hard. Imagine being an impoverished inner city student. You’re malnourished, there are few books in your home, you’re struggling to survive in a world populated by drugs and gangs, you’re suffering from post traumatic stress and your neighborhood school is closed, your teacher is laid off, there’s no tutoring, no arts or humanities classes. And they keep making you take endless high stakes standardized tests. THAT’S what makes students loose interest in school. Not because it’s too easy!
But Emanuel, a former investment banker and Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, only understands business solutions to human challenges.
Emanuel doesn’t think this new policy is a major change.
“We already have around 62 percent of our kids are already either accepted into college or accepted into community college, and our goal is to make sure nobody spikes the ball at 12th grade,” Emanuel said. “We want to make 14th grade universal. That’s the new goal line.”
Is it, Rahm? It’s interesting that you’re doing this for inner city kids but no one is suggesting it for wealthy kids in the suburbs.
The district has been cutting staff positions left and right – especially at schools serving poor students of color. Has any additional funding been budgeted to ensure district guidance counselors are in place to help students meet this goal? NOPE.
Students can graduate if they prove they’ve got a job after high school. Those aren’t exactly growing on trees – especially jobs that pay more than minimum wage. What if students can’t find employment? That’s reason to withhold their diplomas? Your academic fate should be held up because there aren’t enough positions as a fry chef!?
Sure, seniors can apply to a local community college, which according to a spokesperson for City Colleges of Chicago, lets everyone in. But what if this isn’t the path for them? Not everyone is made for college. Why is the city stepping in to demand a post graduate plan from students? Isn’t this really just a recruitment plan for these community colleges and/or the military?
Is this even legal? These kids have passed all their classes. They’ve earned a diploma. You can’t simply withhold it because their post-secondary plans don’t meet with your approval.
When the district withholds its first diploma, look for a legal challenge where taxpayers will be in the uncomfortable position of paying for legal counsel to stop a child from graduating.
You wonder why a fool like Trump won the Presidency? It’s because of neoliberal attitudes like these. Both of these men were part of the Obama administration. And Hillary Clinton was following in the same footsteps – or certainly she didn’t speak out against it.
In fact, his corruption was so bad that during the 2016 primary, he became an issue for Democratic Presidential contenders. Bernie Sanders actually called him out in a tweet saying: “I want to thank Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing me. I don’t want the endorsement of a mayor shutting down schools and firing teachers.”
Rahm had endorsed Clinton putting her in a bad position. Ann O’Leary, Clinton’s education advisor, said in private emails that Emanuel was “bad for Chicago schools.” Like Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, O’Leary was a longtime supporter of corporate education reform policies – and so was Clinton. Hillary supported George W. Bush’s terrible No Child Left Behind – the law that changed federal education policy from focusing on equity to holding schools hostage for their standardized test scores.
O’Leary was worried about how Emanuel might hurt Clinton – especially in light of Bernie’s tweet.
In a private email to senior Clinton staff, she wrote:
“Bernie is beating us up over Rahm’s record on schools in Chicago. The Chicago school system is overloaded with debt and likely to run out of cash before the end of the school year. As a result, they are withholding their pension contributions, and laying off teachers and support staff.
That sounds like a toxic idea to me given Rahm’s endorsement, but I don’t think this issue is going away.
We could: (a) have HRC say something more forceful about the state working to help Chicago pay off debt so the schools can focus on teaching and learning; (b) have Randi say something more mild and we could retweet. But I do worry that short of going after Rahm, these options are not going to be satisfactory. So the (c) option is to stay silent for now.
O’Leary’s final decision was to do nothing.
And we all know how that turned out.
The worst part is that the Democrats don’t appear to have learned anything.
“The federal government is disinvesting in public education and withdrawing from accountability, so states and districts have to step up and lead.”
But Arne, your administration disinvested in public schools, too. Emanuel is famous for it!
And we all know what “accountability” means to neoliberals like you. It means endless standardized testing and closing schools catering to poor students of color. It means giving charter schools, book publishers and testing corporations a blank check.
No one is going to vote for that anymore.
That is just not a viable alternative to Republican policies that take all of this to its logical conclusion.