Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are union-bashing charter reformers sobering up?

NYT's Joe Nocera ("Teaching With the Enemy") says Steven Brill was shocked when AFT prez Randi Weingarten held a book party for him at her home. To tell you the truth, I was too. But the real story Nocera tells is about Brill's own attitude adjustment while researching his virulent union-bashing book, ultimately leading him to make a u-turn and actually nominate Weingarten to become Mayor Bloomberg's next schools chancellor.

As most reviews have noted, however, as “Class Warfare” nears its conclusion, it suddenly veers in a different direction. Instead of bashing the union and Weingarten, Brill suggests that true reform is impossible without them. In fact, he proposes that Mayor Michael Bloomberg appoint her to be the chancellor of the New York City school system.When I asked Brill what caused his change of heart, he responded gruffly: “It’s called reporting.” The two years he spent researching school reform had given him a far richer understanding of the complexities involved in reforming the nation’s schools — and that understanding was sobering. 
Sobering, ah yes. That explains everything. 

Nocera himself seems at times to be incredibly naive and starry-eyed about charters schools, somehow imbibing  them as a class of schools where magical teaching and learning always takes place and spouting the usual cliches about unions being out to protect bad teachers.

But in the end, he too jumps on Brill's wagon and declares, "you simply cannot fix America’s schools by “scaling” charter schools. It won’t work."

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