Friday, January 21, 2011

Rhee opens office in Sacramento; Campbell responds



Note: Michele Rhee opens a lobby operation and gets a front page coverage in the Bee and a photo.  She certainly is effective at getting free media for her positions and her new agency.
Link.  http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/21/3340369/former-dc-schools-chief-to-headquarter.html
We  too have opened an educational advocacy organization with essentially the opposing views.  The Democracy and Education Institute;  link. https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/
Dr. Duane Campbell is the director. 
Starting from over 40 years of working in schools, preparing teachers and teaching, we advocate for a democratic approach to education.   Our  primary researchers have already  prepared  over 700 teachers in the Sacramento region, most of them Chicano, and over 100 educational administrators and leaders throughout the state. 
There are many  available advocacy  strategies.  However, the most important is to share and magnify teacher voices.  Politicians make bad decisions – such as the current budget cuts, or an over reliance on testing- because they are not listening to teachers voices.  Instead they are listening to paid consultants, and “experts” from the corporate establishment.
Newspaper writers and other media writers make the same mistake.  They call their favorite “source” which just happens to be a corporate promoter like Arne Duncan, Michele Rhee,  or one  of the “experts” at elite universities.  Note:  few professors in the elite universities work with  teachers.  They are several steps removed from the classroom.  You can read more about this on the blog Choosing Democracy http://www.choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com.  
The most basic  strategy is to insist on teacher participation in the development of policies.  Get the politicians and the corporate shills out of the classroom. – they have failed our children.

                       A major problem with  campaigns for a democratic approach to schooling is that most of the media and the politicians  has been sold a mindset or framework of accountability by advocates such as Michele Rhee.    Corporate sponsored  networks and “ think tanks” such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Bradley Foundation,  the Olin Foundation, and now Rhee’s  StudentsFirst  and their access to the media is not likely to change.  The domination  of the accountability frame within the media and political circles  must be opposed.  The appointment of Arne Duncan was symptomatic of the problems.   He represents the kind of corporate/media approach to reform. Certainly  in the current battle with Arne Duncan over the "Race to the Top Funds,"  he has ceased the high ground with a claim of accountability – it’s a false claim- but it works. Education and explaining will be a constant struggle.
There are many advocacy  strategies.  However, the most important is to share and magnify teacher voices.  Politicians make bad decisions – such as the current budget cuts, or an over reliance on testing- because they are not listening to teachers voices.  Instead they are listening to paid consultants, and “experts” from the corporate establishment.
Newspaper writers and other media writers make the same mistake.  They call their favorite “source” which just happens to be a corporate promoter like Arne Duncan, Michele Rhee,  or one  of the “experts” at elite universities.  Note:  few professors in the elite universities work with  teachers.  The most basic  strategy is to insist on teacher participation in the development of policies.  Get the politicians and the corporate shills out of the classroom. – they have failed our children.
The news report says that Rhee’s first goal is to raise $1 Billion for advocacy.  Our goal is to raise $20,000 in in-kind contributions, and we already have that.
We will use public interest advocacy strategies  and to support community organizations to effect education policy. We intend to use important community resources and research such as the Robles v. California law suite and its supporters.
In the current era of draconian ( and unnecessary) school budget cuts almost all school reform efforts have ended, except for the hot air of politicians. Funded advocacy groups such as Rhee’s and  “Democrats?” for Educational Reform need to create a sense of doing something in order to raise funds from foundations and other sources.  However, they avoid the obvious. Schools need funding.  There is a reason why the avoid this topic.  The press should ask them why.
             A second ongoing project of the Institute for Democracy and Education is the development of a Chicano/Mexican American Digital History Project for the Sacramento Region.  This project is also on our web site here:
https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/chicano-mexican-american-digital-history-project

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