Saturday, January 29, 2011

California: The New Education Battleground

Here we were congratulating each other in California because we elected a former governor, Jerry Brown, who actually understands and supports the deep civil rights issue of equal access to excellent education for every child.  (I know, such a feel-good '60s concept, but 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, shouldn't SOMEONE be saying this out loud?)  Jerry is an old-school infighter, a former Jesuit and two-term governor whose father was governor before him; he's smart, he's savvy, and he's up against the fight of his life.

It is one of those grand coincidences of cosmic time that Michelle Rhee, the front-man for the moneyed interests who would turn our public school system over to venture capitalists, is engaged to be married to the mayor of Sacramento, which just happens to be the capital of California.  So Michelle and Jerry will be neighbors, and the lone Democratic governor to win the most recent election is surely number one on the hit parade of those same "reformers" who can't wait to get in here and take over California schools to help our kids better serve the economy (or their economy, I forget).  No, that's right, the moguls haven't figured out yet that lighting the intellectual fire for every kid would do more than any other factor to boost the American economy and upgrade our way of life far beyond that tired Sputnik level that the President mentioned just this week.

So, let's call out Michelle Rhee and see what she's really made of, shall we?

Welcome to California, Michelle, and here's the deal:  We invite you to put your money where your mouth is (Students First) and collaborate with Governor Brown to do something REALLY worthwhile for California's kids:

  • Use that money to UPGRADE existing schools
  • Free teachers from the outdated testing system
  • Implement creativity and critical thinking in classrooms
  • Provide technological training and support
  • Bring in private sector experts to help rebuild the educational infrastructure, including adequate technology for every classroom
  • Provide funding to support personalized learning in small, collaborative environments for every child
In other words, help this heavily populated and heavily broke state (Thanks, Arnold, you did a great job . . .) create a Renaissance for public education right now, no waiting!

After all, changing the schools is going to require MONEY, as every reputable charter operator has discovered, including Geoffrey Canada who has eked out millions from his supporters for this very effort.

Oh, even better, let's take that charter concept to its logical next step!

Michelle, with your national platform, help California become a CHARTER STATE, where all the inhibiting rules are lifted for two years while we pull all the players together to REINVENT our entire system for the 21st century.   Help California (and the nation) develop a new VISION for what our schools can become by statewide collaborative events that bring parents, teachers, students, and community INTO the process.  Excellent public schools for every child in every neighborhood!

Oh, that's not what the Students First money is earmarked for? Collaboration is, what did you call it, "over-rated"? Your business backers have another political agenda in mind? In fact, you have your own agenda?

Really.  Well, I guess we'll all have to think of something else . . . .

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