“V,” Ayn Rand and the Direction of Education Policy: Does the Chancellor Matter? Is It a Question of Style Over Substance?

 I wonder whether the revival of the ABC sci-fi series”V, which rolls out an alien reptilian plot to dominate and consume mankind is actually a thinly veiled description of the Department of Ed Leadership Academy?  Is the Academy the “mother ship” attracting the innocent and using them as tools of the plot for world-wide domination? Am I being too paranoid? And remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t plotting against you.
We never cease being amazed by the vision of Obama, Duncan and Klein and their acolytes, including University of Penn President Amy Gutmann, they continue to view competition as a key to school improvement, with charter schools driving the competition with public schools, seemingly ignoring a recent internal Department powerpoint showing public schools outperforming charter schools, in spite of the “darling” status of charter schools, as described by Chancellor Meryl Tisch,
Speaking at Hunter College, Tisch said that charter schools have benefited from being the political “darlings” of the city and state, blessed with the most qualified teachers and some of the highest-achieving students.
Competition, leadership totally in the hands of principals without restraints provided by labor contracts, or school boards, or parents, a sort of libertarian climate emphasizing the power of the individual. Maybe the recent interest in Ayn Rand has morphed into the philosophy driving ed reform? ( “Ethical egoism … endorses selfishness, …”)
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teacher struggles to parse Obama’s words, trying to find a glint of “collaboration” in his speech,
“If we embark on a course of shared responsibility and collaboration, we will be much closer to reaching the ultimate goal of providing a great education to all students,” Weingarten says. “When teamwork, trust and respect become ingrained in the fabric of a school district and are incorporated into all decision-making—not just used during contract negotiations—the outcome is good for kids. Teachers want their students to do well, but they need the tools and resources that will create the conditions to help their students succeed.

“President Obama cited just a few of many recent stellar examples where collaborative partnerships are making a tangible difference for students and teachers.”

I’m not so sure that the Prez has moved away from his stance, in spite of his “tip of the hat” to the New Haven contract, his November 4th speech avers,

Now, before a state is even eligible to compete, they’ll have to take an important first step.  And this has caused some controversy in some places, but it shouldn’t be controversial.  Any state that has a so-called firewall law will have to remove them.  Now, here’s what a firewall law is:  It basically says that you can’t factor in the performance of students when you’re evaluating teachers.  That is not a good message in terms of accountability.  So we said, if you’ve got one of those laws, if you want to compete for these grants you got to get rid of that law.

And we’ll encourage states to take a better approach when it comes to charter schools and other innovative public schools.  When these schools are performing poorly, they’ll be shut down…

 Across the country, different groups are coming together to bring about change in our schools — teachers unions and parents groups, businesses and community organizations.  In places like New Haven, educators and city leaders have come together to find a smarter way to evaluate teachers and turn around low-performing schools. 

So guys, does it matter who is chancellor? Do we have a national agenda, from Obama to Duncan to Regent Tisch to Commissioner Steiner to the NYC Chancellor?

David Bloomfield, in a puckish blog begins to speculate on the next NYC Chancellor, but, is it a matter of personality rather than policy?

Will the educator chancellor be any different than the businessman/lawyer chancellor?

Joel Klein chose to be confrontational, the “in your face” litigator, constantly taking on his critics while Arne Duncan is the suave, charming Secretary of Ed, with pretty much the same agenda. Then again it is nicer to be romanced before being seduced.



One response to ““V,” Ayn Rand and the Direction of Education Policy: Does the Chancellor Matter? Is It a Question of Style Over Substance?

  1. The real dilemna is that this chancellor is not someone who matters to New York City’s teachers. What anecdote can anyone recall from Klein about his teaching days? Whether in a lunchroom or at a party, teachers endlessly discuss their students, their victories and their defeats. It is not genuine for Klein to pontificate. Teachers want guidance and support. Would we want our surgeon to be trained by a lawyer? By a businessman? Teaching is a specialty. We do not pay to go to a concert to hear someone sing off-key. Why are we listening to someone who has not been one of us? Has Klein ever taught? I am certain that there is a teacher in New York City, someone with over twenty years in the classroom, someone who is respected by students, parents and fellow teachers who could truly be the doorkeeper on education, not the doorstop.


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