The Instigator: New Yorker Profile of Charter School Chief Steve Barr is Propaganda, not Reporting
Barr likes to quote from the crude actions of a covert assassin wallowing in alcohol in a "conventionally dopey," "sadistically violent," "mean-spirited," "fascist aesthetic" turning the multiplex into a two tours of a hate movie of "apocalyptic vengeance" "depicting Mexico City as the worst hellhole in the hemisphere?" Over 60 percent of reviewers quoted here said Man on Fire "sucked." Here’s how Rex Reed sums it up: "Suffice it to say nothing about this pumped-up, hyperthyroidal revenge flick makes sense, but it takes two hours to kill off as many people and demolish as many vehicles as Charles Bronson used to do in 30 minutes."
Surely it is jarring that the fellow who has taken over the Alain LeRoy Locke High school in Los Angeles, named for a believer in the Bahá'í faith, the first African-American named a Rhodes Scholar, the man known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance, points to the scene in a movie where Denziel Washington doesn’t get the answer he wants from the Mexico City police chief and "sticks a bomb up his ass" as his vision of school management.
Maybe Arne — "Call me Arnie" — Duncan is convinced that Green Dot's claim about its success rate is true.
Looniness as a substitute for policy
But those of us who have worked in schools of any stripe know talk about "success rate" after one or two years of operation is worse than loony. It is self-serving and dangerous to the well-being of students. Such rhetoric sounds like the Teach for America version of success: stick it out for two years and you’re ready to be a consultant on education and a public school takeover revolutionary, qualified to receive those billions in taxpayer dollars.
Longtime Oakland teacher Jack Gerson points out: "Two years ago, Steve Barr and his Green Dot charter schools group engineered a hostile takeover of Locke High School, a large public high school in Los Angeles. Despite the opposition of United Teachers of Los Angeles and the LA Unified School District, Barr was able to convince a bare majority of Locke's permanent faculty (37 of 73) to opt for Green Dot."
Barr promptly dismissed the entire staff, forcing them to reapply for their jobs. Over 70 percent were not rehired.
Be that as it may, don't miss (in the excerpt below) the way The New Yorker piece shows how American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten stands up for teachers.
Or doesn't. Note that posted on the United Federation Teacher website from 2007 is this Steve Barr quote: "Randi Weingarten is one of the most progressive labor leaders in the country."
The UFT trumpets that "Green Dot was able to achieve these reforms by establishing a relationship of mutual trust with the teachers union . . . ." Randi, what kind of trust is it when you fire all the teachers?
Note to Randi: Read up on Steve Barr: Start with this tidbit from LA Weekly, Dec. 7, 2006:
"Says Barr, in his classic no-nonsense style: ‘Where are these shitty teachers going to go? Where are these lifetime benefits going to go? What will happen to all of these groups protecting their interests and their jobs and their construction contracts? The political puzzle of this is really fascinating. But I have no doubt that within five years, you’re going to see our impact. And it’s going to be 0huge.’”
Bombs up your asses, teachers.
Randi, think about this: When you start with the vision of shitty teachers with bombs up their asses, then what is next?
Writing in the Los Angeles Times in August 2008, Ralph E. Shaffer, professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona, pointed out that Barr wants to make a particular imprint on the curriculum: "In Locke's social studies and history courses, ‘students will demonstrate an understanding of .... and a belief in the values of ... capitalism.’"
Now we know why the Gates, Broad, Annenberg and Walton families have poured so much money into the charter school movement [and some of them millions into Steve Barr's projects]. Since when do we require our students to demonstrate on a test that they not only understand but believe in capitalism? That ought to go over big among the economically depressed living in the Locke attendance area.
Is this curriculum vision what Barr means when he promises teachers, "more freedom in the classroom?"
NOTE: The New Yorker article names Ted Mitchell as president of the California State Board of Education; he's also the CEO of the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF), whose East Coast operations are headed by Jim Peyser. New Schools Venture Fund is, of course, deeply involved with Broad Foundation largess.
Reminder: CHICAGO, April 30, 2002 Newswire/ — Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, The Broad Foundation Founder Eli Broad, New Schools Venture Fund President Kim Smith, and Ne w Leaders for New Schools CEO Jon Schnur announced a $1.4 million investment to help make Chicago the flagship program of a national effort to recruit and train outstanding new urban school principals. That program is called "New Leaders for New Schools."
Ask a few of your Chicago teacher friends how this has worked out.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has been awarding sizable grants to Green Dot since 2005.
In 2006, for example, Eli Broad’s foundation announced it would give Green Dot $10.5 million.
Gates gave Green Dot $1.8 million the same year.
And now, about Douglas McGray, the author of this piece on Steve Barr: Douglas McGray is a Fellow at the New America Foundation. Located in Washington, D. C. On their website, they point out their "significant presence in California." It’s a small world for foundation folk: Steve Coll, President and CEO of New America Foundation, is a also staff writer at The New Yorker. James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, is on the Board of Directors of New America Foundation. Douglas McGray penned an article for the January/February 2009 Atlantic. Sara Mead is Senior Research Fellow, Education Policy Program and Workforce and Family Program at New America Foundation; formerly at Progressive Policy Institute where she remains a nonresident fellow. On my website I issue periodic warnings about this outfit. Maybe it’s enough to say they are welded to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).
Mead told PBS Standardisto lapdog John Merrow, "New America has joined with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in advocating high-quality voluntary national standards."
Camille Esch, Director, California Education Program at New America Foundation, was previously a senior policy and data analyst at The Education Trust-West.
"You seem to have cracked the code," U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Barr, in offering several billions of our taxpayer dollars in a Barr-style school stimulus package. Indeed. Green Dot offers no tenure and no lifetime benefits. Teachers, you need professional dignity. And one day you will be old. You will need the "benefits" accrued from a lifetime’s work.
Bombs up your asses, teachers.
Excerpts from "The Innovator," The New Yorker, May 11, 2009 by Douglas McGray. Find the full article here.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Substance, May 2009. Copyright 2009 Substance, Inc. Reprint permissions are hereby granted to not-for-profit and pro public education groups and for teaching purposes. Please give full credit to Substance, http://www.substancenews.net. Your subscription to Substance helps provide timely and accurate news about the fight to save public education in the face of corporate media lies.
Douglas McGray, with comment by Susan Ohanian
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