White Man’s Burden 2009 style

Take up the White Man’s burden —

Ye dare not stoop to less–

Nor call too loud on Freedom

To cloke your weariness;

By all ye cry or whisper,

By all ye leave or do,

The silent, sullen peoples

Shall weigh your gods and you.

    From “White Man’s Burden,” by Rudyard Kipling

Hyatt heiress Penny Pritzker updates the 1899 poem for today in describing her commitment to Renaissance 2010 as a member of the Renaissance Schools Fund:

“You are fighting on behalf of young people who don’t necessarily have the support at home or in their local community,” she said. “To me, it’s obvious.”

Thanks (I think) to Mike Klonsky’s Small Talk for alerting me to this nausea-inducing Education Week article on the great white folks behind Renaissance 2010. (Ed week is pay as you go for the online edition now).

I’m glad not to have missed Penny’s (what an ironic name) breathtaking display of arrogance, as well as Arne Duncan’s profession that he likes to work with these rich folks on the Renaissance Fund board: “I see them as real partners. They are as emotionally invested and intellectually invested in making a difference in kids’ lives as we are.”

If I’ve gotta get up at 5 am this Wednesday to go stand in line at CPS headquarters for the Board meeting, it helps to have my fires of outrage stoked by reading about how the rich folk on the Renaissance Fund feel about taking over our schools and communities, since we obviously can’t handle the responsibility, and to know that new Ed Sec Arne just loves to partner with “emotionally and intellectually invested“ rich folks, just not emotionally and intellectually invested parents, students, teachers, or regular community people. I guess our kind of “investment” (wink, wink) is just not what he values.

Ed Week: “Both the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Renaissance Schools Fund have adopted practices used by venture capitalists, who contribute startup money for new businesses in exchange for owning a percentage of them, closely monitor their growth, and often play leadership roles in the companies they finance.”

The Ed Week article offers no critique and raises no concern about who should “own” the schools, nor does it offer any suggestion to our families and communities about how to protect our children from the inevitable “dot.com collapse” in our schools under venture capitalist leadership.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.