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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bush, Rove ... and Wylde??

For the past decade or more, the radical Right’s playbook – perfected by Karl Rove on behalf of George Bush – has been the same. If you don’t like the message, attack the messenger using conservative media outlets like Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the Washington Times. In that shameful Bush/Rove tradition now comes Kathryn Wylde with an acrimonious public attack in the shameless NY Post on Diane Ravitch’s criticisms of Mayor Bloomberg’s and Chancellor Klein’s education policies.

Diane Ravitch is arguably the nation’s leading educational historian, a fierce defender of public education and a constant voice of reason in assessing education policy. What are Ms. Wylde’s educational credentials? President & CEO of the Mayor’s Partnership for New York City (an organization of corporate CEO’s who scour up private funds for Mayoral initiatives so they do not have to be approved by the City Council) and a board member for the corporate-funded NYC Leadership Academy and the Research Partnership for New York City Schools. In a prior email, Ms. Wylde wrote that her involvement (in the new Research Partnership) was “intended only to provide some additional tools to help out the schools and the experts in the educational field (which I am definitely not!).”

In a lengthy editorial reputedly crafted with the assistance of the Department of Education and uncharitably titled “Hypocritical Critic,” the ostensibly independent Ms. Wylde implies that Ms. Ravitch’s criticisms are personally motivated. She writes that Ms. Ravitch’s “reversals … seem more tied to her unhappiness with the personalities in the Bloomberg administration than its policies.” She draws inappropriate inferences by lifting Ms. Ravitch’s writings out of context and makes patently ridiculous, Rush Limbaugh-like assertions that Ms. Ravitch “appears not to share the core belief of the mayor's reforms - that every child can be educated and there are no excuses for failing to provide a child with the opportunity for a great education.” This is an insult to a true proponent of child education, coming from an uninformed, elitist dabbler, because Ms. Ravitch has the temerity to question the Mayor’s methods and approach.

According to the New York Sun, Ms. Wylde’s editorial was crafted with the explicit assistance of the DOE. In a manner disturbingly reminiscent of Nixon’s enemies list, spokesperson David Cantor flatly admitted that the DOE has compiled a dossier on Diane Ravitch (with taxpayer money, naturally). Mr. Cantor’s defense of this tactic was indeed priceless: that she’s “either distorting what we’re doing” or “attack[ing] us.” Has anybody seen J. Edgar Hoover hanging around Tweed lately?

Mayor Bloomberg and a handful of his millionaire/billionaire friends are actively recasting the City’s public school system in a corporatist image of their own devising. They seek no input beyond their own well-heeled coterie, brook no dissent, dismiss parents as ignorant or irrelevant, spend millions on misleading and self-congratulatory public relations campaigns funded by the same cronies, and now attack those who dare speak out. Public and private moneys intended to help the public schools are being diverted into a personal PR machine that simultaneously touts the Mayor’s purported “successes” while stamping down dissent from any and every quarter.

Mayoral control has morphed into Mayoral dictatorship, and the NYC school system is being transformed into little more than a Princeton Review-styled test mill. It’s time for those who would never deign to send their children to the City’s public schools to stop imposing their blindered will on those parents who do. Mayoral control as currently devised – arrogant, belittling, non-responsive, so pro-standardized testing as to be anti-educational – cannot continue to stand.


Leonie Haimson said...

This is great.

Whether its our taxpayer money going to fund their smear campaigns or charities that were originally set up to help the public schools (The Fund for Public Schools) now devoted to run ads to prop up the Mayor’s image, what should be spent on improving education for our kids is being diverted – and perverted – into the administration's brutal PR machine to stamp out any dissent.

Anonymous said...

Truth tellers are the real heroes during this hisorical episode which can be referred to as the "hostile corporate takeover" of city schools. Voices like Diane Ravitch and Steve Koss should be applauded for their candor, humane perspective and nerve. Their honesty is much appreciated in this time of intense spinning and fabrication by Tweed's PR machine.