Connecting Jersey Jazzman and Diane Ravitch’s posts today

OK-  I think I misnamed my blog.  Maybe I should have gone with “connecting dots” vs. “seeing shades of gray.”

Earlier today I read an analysis of  a Michelle Rhee speech, found in a tweet from Diane Ravitch.   I was impressed by the analysis, but mostly I was scared by the propaganda Rhee spins.  As stated by Joanna Bujes, “A constant refrain — explicit or implicit — in all of Rhee’s talk of education, turns on the notion that the interests of children and that of adults are diametrically opposed, and that educational policy is needed to reconcile them. According to this view, teachers care about benefits, retirement, and protection against their own incompetence; therefore they do not care about children.”

Bujes continues, stating in one or her five summary points, “The core of [Rhee’s] argument is that the interests of children and teachers (adults) are opposed. Therefore, limiting the pay of most teachers, taking away tenure or collective bargaining rights, or firing teachers when they become too expensive can only benefit children.”

I sat back after reading that post and thought, boy, do we have work to do.  It is imperative we get the public to understand that the interests of children and teachers are not opposed.  In fact, they are largely aligned.

So then, an hour or two later I return to Twitter, this time following a post by Jersey Jazzman, where he dissects an article about Chris Cerf, the acting New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner, and, lo and behold!  The message is exactly the same.   The article shares this quote by Cerf: ” I represent the interests of the children of New Jersey, pure and simple. When there is a conflict between interests, and you would be amazed at how many issues come my way where you actually have to make a call between one interest and the other, I’m with the children. And I make that clear.” (emphasis Jersey Jazzman’s)

Yep.  Same message.

Same dangerous spin.

Same untruth.

So going back to Bujes’ post, I think she is right in her end remarks:

“We cannot help our children unless we ourselves can breathe; but StudentsFirst would have us believe that the more tenuous, the more stressed the position of the teacher, the more benefit accrues to their students. Apparently for StudentsFirst, there are never enough oxygen masks. This is the most important frame for us to use in teaching people and teachers how to think about the current situation…

The core of our story must be that a good education is the result of an enduring relationship of student to teacher, and that the commitment of the educational system to the teacher — to her training, evaluation, and job satisfaction — will translate into her effective commitment to the education of her students. It is because this relationship is so essential to education that education cannot be industrialized. Neither the teacher nor the student are interchangeable parts.” (emphasis mine)

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