Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two leaked memos showing how desperate corporate reformers are to retain failed status quo policies after the election

Two leaked memos show how desperately the corporate reformers in the administration and in the private sector want the mayor's failed policies to be
retained after the mayoral election – despite the huge public disgust with the status quo.

The first is a  memo from the Parthenon group, available at the GothamSchools website; showing how the DOE is avidly trying to strategize as to how to keep the network structure in place, and prevent geographically-based district structure to be restored.  Nearly all the Democratic candidates have said the networks make no sense, and parents unanimously agree.  

To this end, DOE has hired Parthenon as consultants for $375,000, paid for by private funds.  FYI, Parthenon is also one of Gates Foundation’s favorite consulting companies, and it is quite possible they are footing the bill for initial phase of project.  

However, as GS notes: “A longer-term phase of the project that Parthenon pitched involves managing the implementation of its vision during the 2013-2014 school year. That phase would cost more than $400,000, but Polakow-Suransky said he anticipated that part of the project being completed in house.”  

This means that the DOE is prepared so spend half a million dollars to make sure this incoherent and pointless management structure remains in place past the elections – one that NO ONE likes, outside of Tweed and the PSO’s , which of course benefit from the steady revenue stream of taxpayer money. The fact that even the principals, who according to DOE are supposed to benefit from the system, detest the networks was evident when Quinn responded at the CSA forum that she was still considering keeping them in place, and was met with boos

I have spoken to network staff, who themselves say that they don’t think the system makes any sense and that the districts should be restored – especially as they have to spend most of their time driving from one part of the city to another, wasting time and contributing to global warming.

One of the projects envisioned in the Parthenon strategy to protect the network structure : “Internal communications: Increasing Principal support of the networks to bolster their defense of the aspects of the structure that are most valuable.” 

Expect statements of support to be released with principals pressured to sign on, especially those principals at New Visions schools. New Visions would dearly like to be kept on the gravy train and  was "caught" in 2007 (from another leaked memo) pressuring schools that they had started with Gates money to select them as their PSO. (h/t Lisa Donlan) 

Note also how in the Parthenon memo that conversations with "key stakeholders" exclude parents, teachers, and students. A better example of Bloomberg's oppressive reign of “Educrats first” is hard to imagine.  Why does DOE so intent on keeping the networks?  Going back to districts would allow the connection between neighborhoods, local electeds and schools to be strengthened, diminish their autocracy and their ability to close and privatize schools.  Some of the same thinking is at play in their last inning attempt to dezone elementary and middle schools in many districts throughout the city.

The other leaked memo, reported in Crain’s, from Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform, reveals that he doesn't think any of the GOP mayoral candidates  can win, and among the Democratic candidates, he believes that Thompson, Quinn, and Weiner could be expected to be charter-friendly and continue to co-locate charters in DOE buildings.  He asks his hedge fund supporters to “hedge” their bets, and “continue to quietly work with these candidates” behind the scenes.  Here is an excerpt; the full memo is below.

“What is worth noting… is how careful several of the candidates -- including Quinn and Thompson -- have attempted to play nicely with the UFT while not closing the door to being able to work with the education reform coalition later on down the road [what DFER calls the privatizers/hedge funders.]  There has been some serious parsing of words with regard to “moratoriums” on co-locations, for example, or allowing “community input” with regard to the same.  Without specifics, those comments and positions mean little.  The door has been left open to continued relationship-building here….

In the current field, both Quinn and Weiner appear to support co-locations and Thompson and deBlasio have offered adequately confusing responses on the issue….The key objective is …making sure that the run-off election is between Quinn and Someone Good, or at least Someone Not Bad…This hedge … is entirely do-able if we galvanize enough support behind this strategic deployment of effort….”

1 comment:

Joel said...

It is very important that the UFT and concerned parent groups throw their full support to a candidate who really cares about the children and teachers in our public schools.
If charter schools want to use our school buildings as public supported schools they should be forced to accept ELL and special Ed students and not be permitted to dump them if they are doing poorly academically or are causing behavior problems in the school.