Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bob Hughes, announced as member of NY's "Race to the Top" team and criticized by the EEOC the same day

According to Gotham Schools, Bob Hughes of New Visions will be part of the NY State team to appear before the panel of judges to determine the federal “Race to the Top” awards.

As EdWeek puts it, "How a state’s delegation performs in a 30-minute presentation and a 60-minute question-and-answer session with a panel of judges could make or break its chances in round one of the competition.”

This dog and pony show, which might be likened to “American Idol”, is a function of the politicization of these grants, which should be honestly won or lost on the basis of substance alone.

Unmentioned in the Gotham Schools are Hughes’ close ties to the Gates Foundation, which financed many of the small schools in NYC through his organization as an intermediary.
Some have said that the Gates Foundation is really the power behind the throne in determining who wins these awards – as well as many of the pro-privatization policies being pushed by the US Dept. of Education; the foundation also helped states write their RTTT applications.

The woman who head’s the RTTT program at the US Dept of Ed, Joanne Weiss, is former COO of New Schools Venture fund, which finances charter school expansion with large infusions of Gates money; accordingly, states can win “points” on their applications depending on how charter-friendly they are.
Other members of the NY State RTTT team are Laura Smith, formerly chief of staff under former deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf, and before that, an employee of the NYC Charter School Center, and deputy Commissioner John King, formerly head of the Uncommon Schools charter chain.
According to Gotham Schools, New Visions has a financial interest in NY State’s winning the funds:

Hughes has also said that New Visions would be a likely applicant for a program, proposed by the Regents, to allow alternative organizations to bypass education schools to certify teachers. [Merryl] Tisch also cited Hughes as an expert on how schools can effectively use data to guide their work with students and on launching high schools, an area that will become key as the state attempts to replace its lowest-performing schools. “Bob has a track record on this, and he is respected in every corner on this subject,” Tisch said. “I trust him, I trust his judgment.”

Hughes was also cited in the just-issued decision of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about the discriminatory dismissal of Debbie Almontaser as the principal of Khalil Gibran school: New Visions "concurred in DOE's judgment that she should resign and acted as agent in advising her to do so . . . . In the course of its advisory services to the Community Superintendent in the selection process, it concurred in DOE's conclusion that the circumstances of her resignation were such that continuing her candidacy was not desirable." (The EEOC decision is here.)

Hughes tried to get Almontaser to resign, but she refused until she could meet with the Chancellor, who was conveniently"unavailable." Instead, Deputy mayor Walcott acted as the designated hit-man, and threatened her that the school might be cancelled if she did not resign.

As David Bloomfield, expert on education law, pointed out, “Thus, while New Visions was found not liable since it was not in an employment relationship with Almontaser, it served as willing handmaiden to her illegal discriminatory dismissal 'on account of her race, religion, and national origin.'”

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