Thursday, May 29, 2014

Community engagement is a euphemism for “how to deal with black folk” | Hechinger Report

Community engagement is a euphemism for “how to deal with black folk” | Hechinger Report:



Community engagement is a euphemism for “how to deal with black folk”

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What does community engagement mean? In particular, how does community engagement work for a “takeover district?” It doesn’t really.
Community engagement is a euphemism for “how to deal with black folk.”
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Click to read more columns.
I never use certain metaphors. Immediately after Katrina and the breeches in the levees, I added “hurricane” to a list that includes “slavery,” “rape” and sometimes “war.” I’ve also become very alert to people who use euphemisms to conveniently rob words of their history and meaning.
Standards of decency should rise above poetic license.
Nevertheless, education reformers look to post-Katrina New Orleans as a model to increase the percentage of charter schools, remove attendance zones, take over failing schools, close schools, dissolve teachers unions and decentralize bureaucratically thick school districts.
I’m constantly asked, “In lieu of a hurricane, what can be done the radically reform school districts?” Hurricane has become the unspoken metaphor or referent that reform strategists muse upon to build apparatuses that can initiate the aforementioned strategies. The turnaround/takeover/portfolio district has evolved to become the hurricane of reformers’ desire. As a result, community engagement has become euphemism for “how to deal with black folk in the aftermath.”
In talks about education reform, where you will find the hidden metaphor of hurricane, “community engagement” will soon follow.
This month, I participated on a panel discussion titled “Achieving a New State: A Look at Turnaround School Districts” at the Education Writers Association national seminar. Journalist John Merrow moderated a panel that included Chris Barbic, superintendent of the Achievement District, Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, and me.
The discussion reinforced what I’ve come to know and experience. In talks about education reform, where you will find the hidden metaphor of hurricane, “community engagement” will soon follow.
Merrow led the panel through a series of questions that explored the practices, promises and lessons learned from the Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee, the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) in Michigan and their theoretical mother, the Recovery School District (RSD) in Louisiana.
Each of these turnaround or “portfolio districts” gained state authority to oversee a unique arrangement of traditional and non-traditional schools. Turnaround districts establish conditiCommunity engagement is a euphemism for “how to deal with black folk” | Hechinger Report:

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