Father’s Day: Are Obama/Duncan/Klein Policies Condemning Another Generation to a Life of Poverty? Are They “Playing With Other People’s” Children?


I was driving some kids home from my son’s JV basketball practice.  I knew Willie lived in Brownsville, and on a forlorn street corner he asked me to drop him off. As he turned to walk down a street with many boarded up buildings, he said, “I wish I had a father.”
For too many kids Father’s Day is simply the third Sunday in June.
Afro-Americans are proud of Barack Obama, and increasingly disappointed, especially in his education policies.
Google poverty + zip codes for your city, and match up with the 5% “persistently lowest performing schools.” No surprise: virtually all the so-called failing schools are in the poorest zip codes.
Yet the solution for this failing of government is not working to alleviate the source, childhood poverty, the proposed solutions are charter schools, pay for performance, teacher evaluation systems and testing. Solutions without a scintilla of evidence.
I watch a Teach for America first year teacher “negotiate” with a 12 year old over a cell phone. When the kid refuses to hand over the phone, as per school policy (the parent has to pick it up), the teachers says, “All right, you can keep it, just don’t bring it in again.” (Score: kid 1, teacher 0). The teacher explains, “I didn’t want to antagonize her, I want her to be my friend.” 
Me: “Would you have the done the same thing in a middle class suburban school?
Teacher: “No, the parent would have come up to school.”
Playing with “other people’s children” is not a game. There is a significant difference between being a teacher and a friend!
While Obama/Duncan/Bloomberg laud charter schools  the NYTimes (here) and the UFT (here) show us that these schools enroll far fewer special education, ELL and poor children than neighboring schools. Chartering agencies ignore the law which specifically requires them to enroll comparable numbers of students.
The well regarded Chicago Consortium on School Research in a recently released Report shows that teacher evaluation, when done properly, is a complex task. Student achievement data was never intended to be used for teacher evaluation or compensation schemes. 
Diane Ravitch, in her runaway bestseller brings sanity to the national debate, see a chapter reprinted in the May/June edition of the American Educator here  and a call for neighborhood schools here.
We live in a nation divided by race, gender and class.
The Obama/Duncan “solutions” appear to  be, yet again, those “do-gooder” white intellectuals imposing their so-called “answers” on inner city communities, on people of color.
Unless we address the issues of poverty, until we rebuild communities destroyed by foreclosures and drugs and gangs, until we realize that neighborhood schools must be the anchor to rebuild, as long as we accept test prep in lieu of a high quality standards-based curriculum, we are abandoning another generation of kids without fathers.



One response to “Father’s Day: Are Obama/Duncan/Klein Policies Condemning Another Generation to a Life of Poverty? Are They “Playing With Other People’s” Children?

  1. northbrooklyn

    Poverty is the most expensive thing we pay for in this country.
    Great column!


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