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Monday, January 19, 2015

The Tale of Two Kings: Falsely Claiming the Mantle of MLK, Jr.

For too long, ed. "reformers" have touted their programs as an extension of the U.S. Civil- Rights Movement.  Former NYSED Commissioner, John King, now on his way from Albany to D.C.,  has invoked the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., in advancing his agenda.  See here and here for example.  I suppose if one can call upon the legacy of the true Dr. King, one can largely shield oneself from criticism.  His mantle is sacred.  But when the comparisons are so fake, then what?

The ed. "reformers" have promoted charter schools as a solution to issues of educational inequality revolving around minority communities.  Yet, it seems with the proliferation of charter schools, segregation has only grown worse.  The UCLA study points to the depth of the problems in NY State.  The evidence seems pretty damning.  According to one particularly scary part of its findings:

  • "73% of charters across New York City were considered apartheid schools (less than 1% white enrollment) and 90% percent were intensely segregated (less than 10% white enrollment) schools in 2010. Only 8% of charter schools were multiracial  and with over a 14.5% white enrollment (the New York City average)."

Would the real Dr. King support these findings?

Then, there is the issue of national "reform" legislation, NCLB and RttT, sold to constituent communities as a panacea to inequalities.  If anything, the test-based system of Common-Core aligned accountability has managed to make the vast majority of people into failures without helping to pull minorities up.  In fact, minorities are still failing at greater rates than other subsets.  This Daily News article is particularly disturbing:  "90 city schools failed to pass a single black or Hispanic student on state tests, study shows."  Who would claim the real Dr. King would support ed. reform with such dire results?

Then, there are those "reformers" who would attack unions and strip protections from teachers.  Our tenure, pensions and health system seem to be under attack to varying degrees.  There are permanent clouds hanging over the head of labor.  Martin Luther King, Jr., died while defending the rights of sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.  Who could truly believe he would favor attacks upon unions?

Then, there is the particularly ugly point that education "reform" has led to the elimination of the jobs of many minority workers.  Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, once famously bragged that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing to happen to education in New Orleans.  When public schools were swept away and replaced by charters, the City's African American teachers took the biggest hit.  Would the real Dr. King have supported Duncan's hubris and its damning side effects?  

Off hand, I would guess the real Dr. King would have supported none of the above.  And, I would guess those who claim his mantle to shield their own designs are either lying to themselves, the population or both.  The real Dr. King, of course, cannot stand up, but if there was still a "To Tell the Truth," I am sure I know who should remain seated.  

At any rate, today is the day of the real MLK, Jr.  So, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2015!

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