George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905
Corporations measure success by their stock price, and, stock price is determined by the “bottom line,” profit.
Some corporations increase profits by reducing costs, moving production “off shore,” seeking lower and lower labor costs by moving from country to country. Others, merge with other corporations, and reduce costs by cutting duplicative jobs.
The measure of success in schools are standardized test scores and graduation rates. Non-cognitive behaviors: responsibility, dedication, self-control, empathy, respect, etc. are difficult to measure, and, useless to the Tweed CEOs. Of course, they may be far better predictors of success than measurable cognitive behaviors.
One “measure of success,” is beyond the control of the Tweed masters. The standard tests are constructed by New York State, or, NAEP, by national organizations. The SED and the DOE continues to battle over the “definition” of graduation rates. At a recent panel at the New School University Regent Meryl Tisch, responding to Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf’s graduation rate numbers, called him “arrogant,” for ignoring previously agreed upon definitions.
In spite of the public posture of restoring the promise of Brown v Board of Education Klein sees the destruction of his “enemies” as his legacy.
The Klein core belief is simple: a disposable teaching force.
* discard senior teachers: they are “expensive,” and, more difficult to manage. The “fast food” model: train “employees” as quickly as possible, squeeze as much as possible out of them, discard them and begin again.
* “keep fear alive:” the threat of closing schools keeps teachers in fear of losing their jobs, and makes them “teach harder,” and, do “whatever is necessary” to increase test scores.
* the permanent revolution: keep battling the union, unrelenting warfare, try to isolate the union from their own members, from the influential foundations and policy makers.
* attacks on tenure: with a goal of weakening, and, eventually eliminating tenure.
The Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) “issue” was created by the Department, part of a larger strategy. As UFT Vice President Leo Casey describes the union has proffered a range of strategies to resolve the issue. The Department created the “problem,” and has no interest in resolving the problem.
Forty years ago, in May of 1968 Mayor John Lindsay decided to support a strategy to destroy the teacher’s union. In 1967 Lindsay and Ford Foundation created three experimental clusters of schools, Some sociologists saw “community control,” the empowerment of the poorest, as an answer to growing civil unrest of the 60’s and a path to creatively ending the cycle of poverty, and, Lindsay used this research to support his attack on the teacher union.
The firing of a group of white teachers precipitated a series of teacher strikes that kept the school closed in September and October of 1968.
Instead of destroying the union Shanker emerged from the strike much more powerful, and, Lindsay’s run for the presidency in 1972 was sidetracked by teachers.
In 1965 Lindsay was the “golden boy,” a liberal Republican JFK clone. Rather than changing the face of politics the 1968 strike destroyed his career.
As Bloomberg and Klein pursue the next steps in their careers they forget that those insignificant pesky teachers, and their allies, public school parents, are tugging real hard on that proverbial rug.