Thanks to the tireless effort of education activist, the general public is on to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
People know Emanuel is bad news when it comes to public education.
Of course, Mayor Emanuel worked hard to cement his reputation – by closing schools, refusing to fund wrap around services, and praising charter schools.
In a city with nearly 800 homicides and more than 4,000 shootings last year, Emanuel refuses to fund wraparound services for students living with this trauma. His Chicago Housing Authority is hoarding a $379 million surplus while we have more than 18,000 homeless students in the city’s school district, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Special education cuts in the public schools have left our most vulnerable students without the services and resources they so desperately need. Seventy-five percent of public schools in Chicago do not have libraries, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (which I serve as president).
Emanuel led the largest mass public school closing ever in one U.S. city—mostly in African-American and Latino communities—and has been accused of fostering educational “apartheid” by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He also is known for his Rolodex full of prominent businessmen and wealthy entrepreneurs who have funded charter school privatization, which set the stage for the aforementioned closures.
Not surprisingly, the only schools Emanuel celebrates in his opinion piece are charter schools. One of them is part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which named one of its campuses Rauner College Prep after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The multimillionaire governor, who supports Trump’s nomination of DeVos as secretary of education, is also on record saying that half of Chicago’s public school teachers are “virtually illiterate” and that half of the city’s principals are “incompetent.”
When Mayor Emanuel announced his new graduation requirements: an acceptance letter to a university or community college, proof of an apprenticeship or internship, acceptable to a trade school, or enlistment in the armed services, even Gas Station TV covered the story.
What’s worst, Mayor Emanuel claims he got his latest punitive idea for public education from – you guessed it – charter schools.
Chicago would be the first city to implement such a requirement, although Emanuel said it’s an idea he borrowed from charter schools.
Chris Reykdal Has His Own Plan to Force Students into a Career Path
What’s interesting is right around the same time – when Chicago Mayor Emmanuel was taking heat for his coercive plan for high school students – State Superintendent Chris Reykdal was pushing a similar plan in the Washington State Legislature.
This isn’t surprising to anyone who bothered to read Superintendent Reykdal’s K-12 Education Vision & McCleary Framework.
High School and Beyond Learning Plans for Every Student
The transition from middle school to high school is a substantial risk for students. The research shows that if a students fails even one core course ( math, science, or English ), in the 9th grade, they are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers. Washington State will become a leader in adopting a robust universal High School and Beyond Plans (HSBP) for 8th graders on their way to high school. The middle school provides the plan to the student’s high school, which details the student’s strengths, areas of growth, initial career interests, and a road map of the courses required to graduate from high school successfully. The HSBP tool will be digital and accessible to parents, guardians, counselors, and students. It will also provide the framework for early warning messaging to parents via contemporary digital media tools. Authentic parent engagement needs to meet the needs of the 21st century. (bold mine)
First off, two side issues which need addressing:
Reykdal’s push as a legislator for a statewide requirement of 24 credits has made the issue of students not passing one core class and failing to graduate an even higher possibility.
Second, authentic parent engagement involves actual humans – like teachers- not a text message similar to the ones I get from the dentist reminding me to schedule my next cleaning.
Must Means Mandatory
Here’s the wording from HB 2224, which passed the House with a vote of 94 yeas and ZERO noes on June 27, 2017.
“Must have” means mandatory in my book; if it’s a requirement for 8th grade or 12th grade is, frankly, irrelevant.
Instead of coercion, why isn’t our State Superintendent demanding every school in Washington State have full time counselors, nurses, social workers, and all of the other wrap around services kids need to be successful in school and life.
What’s so important about these plans?
Here’s a not so benevolent possibility to consider, from Wrench in the Gears:
Recent “philanthropic” interest in universal pre-kindergarten, early literacy interventions and post-graduation plans (college, career, military or certifications) does not stem from some benevolent impulse. Rather it is about creating opportunities to embed digital frameworks into our education systems that reduce children’s lives to datasets. Once education is simplified as 1s and 0s, global finance will be well-positioned to speculate (gamble) on the future prospects of any given child, school, or district.
That is what accounts for intrusive preschool assessments like TS Gold and the pressure for middle school students to complete Naviance strengths assessments. Impact investors need baseline data, growth data and “value added” data to assess ROI (return on investment). There are opportunities for profit all along this human-capital value chain. That is why end-of-year testing had to go in favor of constant, formative assessments. That is why they needed to implement VAM (Value Added Measures) and SLOs (Student Learning Objectives). These speculative markets will demand a constant influx of dynamic data. Where is this student, this class, this district compared with where they were projected to be? We need to know. Our bottom line depends on it.
We must recognize that beneath the propaganda of expanding opportunities for our most vulnerable populations, what is happening with “Future Ready” education is predatory and vile. It demeans education, turning it into a pipeline for human capital management at the very moment more and more experts are conveying grave concerns about the future of work in a world increasingly governed by artificial intelligence and automation.
Washington State’s Backdoor Draft and More
This is where HB 2224 gets downright ugly.
Admission to university or community college – check.
Proof of an apprenticeship, internship, or acceptable to a trade school -check.
Enlistment in the armed services -check.
Forcing kids to enlist in the military because they can’t jump through all these state mandated requirements to graduate is coercion.
Remember, these extra requirements are in addition to high school students passing all of their classes and earning 24 credit.
I think it’s also important to point out that most adults reading this post never had to pass a standardized test to graduate or had to cope with the added pressure and stress ed-reform’s embrace of business discipline has added on today’s student academic experience.
In short, I will not accept the rationale that these “outs” to an already brutal system are somehow benevolent.
Don’t try explaining away this type of authoritarian pressure to me as a benign attempt by the state to step in and help kids living in poverty make plans for the future because they don’t get that help from their parents.
This excuse is downright insulting to parents trying to make ends meet in our society of ever widening economic inequity – not to mention our country’s continuing love affair with the lie that skin color is character.
How is Washington State’s plan not similar to Mayor Emmanuel’s plan? And if so, where’s the outrage?
It’s also not hard to see State Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s mandatory high school and beyond plans evolving to require even more invasive character and academic assessments in the future – just give the legislature a few more sessions to get the job done.
The legislature already got a good head start when they rewrote the assessment requirements needed to graduate – as requested by Reykdal.
After all, the Washington Legislature doesn’t give a damn about funding our public schools, but they sure do like to pile on the requirements for graduation.