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Monday, February 28, 2011

Educational Autocrats in USA

I just had to laugh when I read a recent account In Education Week about the Teach for America 20th Anniversary in Washington.
Speakers, including Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, were asked to compare the fight for educational equity to the uprising in Egypt that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Both Canada and Klein are similar type autocrats as Mubarak. Canada doesn't see the value of the teacher union as being a check and balance set up to counter poor leadership. Klein has a record for attempts to union bust. In both cases, neither have shown themselves to be educational reformers as the article hinted. Canada runs his Zone with an iron fist and Klein was always a bully. There is no data that shows either men has been successful in their endeavors except from what we hear from them. The same kind of data, each would use to dismiss a teacher when used on them would find both men wanting.
The jury is still out on the effects of TFA, yet Duncan praised it: "U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised TFA for changing the face of public education in this nation." Even Hollywood with its movies can't advance the careers of Canada nor TFA as we see the data shows them producing SOSO results and nothing extraordinary to label them Superman or changers of education. The work of the everyday teachers who collaborate in a community are our super heroes. People like Canada, Klein, and Duncan show themselves as the autocrats they are when it comes to education.

Yes, we need a revolution, but not one led by the likes of Canada, Klein, Duncan, or others of their ilk. They have proven via the data, that they are misinformed and dangerous to the educational landscape. They are our dangerous autocrats.

The revolution we need in education is one that has fueled those in the Mideast, technology. In a changing world, especially one driven by technology, we continue to see leaders discuss education from the way they were taught, evaluate it from that same dismal vantage point, rather than discuss what it could be if we used technology. Autocrats, don't lke democracy, it is messy, and technology certainly makes things more democratic and messy at times. Also autocrats don't have the control they need to survive, because they lack vision. They possess power derived from deception and perpetrated by lies and/or fear.

As I said earlier, at first I laughed, then I stopped because of the irony in asking the wrong people at the wrong celebration, because they are our Mubarak. America is in a battle of its own that is similar to our breathen in the Mideast. Maybe Madison, Wisconsin is our Cairo.

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