Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Billionaire Blunders: Appointing Education Chiefs Who Know Little about Public Schools | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Billionaire Blunders: Appointing Education Chiefs Who Know Little about Public Schools | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Billionaire Blunders: Appointing Education Chiefs Who Know Little about Public Schools



Anyone remember Cathy Black? Don’t think so. In 2011, Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and New York City Mayor appointed the 66 year-old head of the Hearst magazine chain–a “superstar manager,” he said–to head the 1.1 million student district. Neither having the requisite three years of teaching experience or a master’s degree or professional degree in administering schools, the state commissioner waived these requirements in order for Black to become Chancellor.*
The uproar that followed over a choosing a Chancellor who knew little about public schools–her children were educated in private schools–led to Bloomberg firing Black 95 days after she took office (see here and here).
Then there is Betsy DeVos, billionaire President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. Raised in a wealthy family–her father was an auto parts manufacturer in Michigan–she attended private Christian schools, married into the Amway fortune, sent her children to Christian private schools, and became a philanthropist and fervent advocate for vouchers and for-profit charter schools in Detroit and the state of Michigan. She has had no experience as a manager of a large organization (see here and here; for more positive views of DeVos, see herehere, and here)
The recent Senate hearings where she was cuddled by the Republican majority of Senate and grilled by the minority Democrats revealed a great deal about DeVos’s thinking about public schools and the direction that federal monies and regulations should move. A zealous advocate for school choice in Michigan through vouchers and for-profit charter schools, she sees more parental choice as the direction for the U.S. Department of Education. Rapid-fire questions from Democrats on the Senate Committee revealed the following (see here and here)
*lack of knowledge that it is federal law protecting the rights of disabled children and youth and it cannot be left to the states to enforce, as she said.
*lack of knowledge of the difference between tests showing student proficiency and tests showing student growth over time.
*refusal to say that while public schools should be held to account for student outcomes, charter and voucher-accepting schools should not be held to the same standard.


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