Posts Tagged ‘corporate school reform’

Mark as junk?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014


OK. So, do I mark this as junk or spam?

Paul warns us that under Bruce Rauner:

  • 13,000 teachers will lose their jobs.
  • Communities will be forced to decide between hiking their property taxes and closing their schools.
  • We will have a weakened school system.

And this is different from your slash-and-burn approach to school reform how??

PSAT for 8-20-13: Don’t buy school supplies at WalMart

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

psat_logoPublic Schools Action Tuesday is usually about something you can/should do to support public education. Today it’s about something you shouldn’t do.


It’s that time of year when everyone is stocking up on new notebooks, shiny folders, colorful pencils.

It’s also a time when parents, teachers and students in places like Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington DC are feeling more dread and despair than the excitement that usually accompanies the first day of school, because we can see so how the privatization and austerity moves in these cities are threatening every fundamental of our children’s education.

It’s a time when many are planning strong push-back activities against Rahm Emanuel and other autocrats who are listening only to their rich friends while thumbing their noses at the people who actually use the public schools, at solid education research, and ultimately at the mostly poor, mostly black and brown children whom they claim to love so much.

It’s a terrible time. It’s a time to act locally, but also to think and act globally. We have to do both – these guys have way too much money to spend on their pet strategies, and that money is coming from us.

Much of the blame for the disaster in our nation’s public schools today can be traced to the Walton family’s wealth, which in turn comes from the money people spend in their stores on school supplies and other items. Here’s what some $700 million of the money we spent at WalMart between 2005 and 2010 went to support and promote:


  • more charter schools: $3.8 million in Chicago alone  including $230,000 for UNO charter schools.
  • more school closings: $500,000 to pay for Chicago’s sham “public engagement” school closing hearings.
  • more astroturf “parent” groups like Stand for Children (millions) and Parent Revolution ($6.3 million) to push the parent trigger and other corporate reforms.
  • more high-stakes standardized testing: Walton supports teacher bonuses linked to raising test scores.
  • more vouchers for private and religious schools.
  • more Michelle Rhee: despite the recent scandals involving Rhee, WalMart recently raised her allowance to the tune of $8 million.

Doesn’t this year’s WalMart’s Back-to-school campaign slogan, “More School for your money,” just expose the greed behind their schemes? WalMart

As I’ve said before, it’s not that I think we can bring WalMart to its fiscal knees with a boycott. But companies like WalMart have what one marketing blogger calls a “fragile corporate image.” They want consumers to think of them as benevolent, loving rich folks who desire nothing more than to take care of the rest of us through their generosity. They want us to have a warm fuzzy feeling when we think about them, which will lead us to ignore their growing reputation as horrible bosses, and go buy some more stuff at their stores.

In fact, WalMart’s public image is getting more fragile all the time – read “The Real WalMart: Six Big Fibs in WalMart’s New Ad Campaign” by Calvin F. Exoo in yesterday’s Daily Kos, which suggests that WalMart is feeling the heat.

In all likelihood, the Waltons actually want our children to get a poorer, narrower education (or drop out early) so that the best they will be able to aspire to is working for low wages and few if any benefits at WalMart, leaving them little choice but to shop at WalMart in order to stretch their pennies.

So, where should you shop?

I’m not in the business of promoting one business over another, but I did do some research into Office Depot’s corporate giving and I can’t find anything like the rap sheet on the Waltons. In fact, Office Depot offers special rebates to teachers, provides grants for teacher-determined projects on the order of the Donors Choose program, gives away thousands of backpacks every year to low-income children including students in Navajo Nation schools, and even supports Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying efforts.

Just saying.

PSAT for 8-6-13: Put on your birthday clothes! It’s ALEC’s 40th!

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013



Have you bought your gift yet? It’s ALEC’s 40th birthday, and they are coming to Chicago to celebrate.

Hmmm. But maybe since they’ve tried to take so much from us already (our schools, our legislators, our democracy) we could just offer them our presence instead of presents.

CTU and others invite you to ALEC’s 40th Birthday Celebration


  • The Palmer House Hotel, 17 E Monroe Street
  • Chicago
  • Noon
  • Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reclaim Reform adds:

It’s about time that we stopped being willing victims. Show up to their party and let them know – THE PARTY IS OVER.

What, besides writing legislation, do they do to Americans? Propaganda such as the “America is broke” and cannot afford public school education for all. Fill in what you know is pure broke-broke propaganda, and you will probably be pointing at ALEC talk-talk.

Here are some facts to counter their propaganda messages.

Confessions of a Bad Teacher – buy the book!

Monday, August 5th, 2013


It’s a great book (available tomorrow) and my first book jacket blurb!

Here’s what the promo material says:

The book ‘school reformers’ don’t want you to read: Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens.

This book proves why America must:

  • Stop the ‘bad teacher’ witch hunt
  • Return Public schools to the public
  • Give our kids a real education,…not just test prep

John Owens’ book is an expansion of the same-name Salon article he wrote a couple of years ago.

blurbsmallerMy blurb:

Confessions of   a Bad Teacher by John Owens is a vivid account of life in the corporate school reform trenches, with all the agony, comedy, hope and humiliation experienced by so many of today’s public school teachers.

Owens goes beyond telling war stories to reflect on the big picture of bad policies and politics that drive the school day, and to offer some steps readers can take to preserve and protect the precious gift of democratic public education.


The book’s web site also provides an opportunity for teachers, parents, students and others to share our stories.

Read more here.


Hand in glove… Rahm’s Freudian slip?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

RahmmissingfingerpointRahm Emanuel is “100% hand in glove” with Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett who “spoke eloquently” in rejecting the notion that it’s racist to close 54 mostly black elementary schools. (Chicago Sun-Times, 4-5-13)

Here’s how the Free Dictionary explains the idiom Rahm chose: “If one person or organization is working hand in glove with another, they are working together, often to do something dishonest.”

You know, like dismantling public education using the excuse that these schools didn’t get what they needed before so they must now be closed, children dispersed and teachers fired. Coupling that with a promise that this time the surviving schools will get all the resources they need.

You know, dishonest –  like the indignant claim that there’s nothing racist about any of this.

Here’s another useful idiom for this situation: “One hand washes the other.”

Corp reform media blaming teachers, touting charters

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The corporate reform-backed media is  doing its “Education Nation” best to prop up Rahm Emanuel’s union busting efforts, with a lot of help from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Parents Across America’s Leonie Haimson was put up against three white male corp reformers on CNBC yesterday. I know, not fair that the men were  so overmatched, but one of them still managed to suggest that the parents supporting the CTU are victims of Stockholm Syndrome (I’m now cursingoin Swedish…ooh – guess they’re right!).

ABC News (we watch broadcast news at my mom’s house) did a story claiming that Chicago charter schools (which are, you know, open now) are better than comparison schools.

Here’s what Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin quoted today from someone who actually knows the truth about Chicago’s charter schools:

“I ran the numbers when I was at CPS,” said Terry Mazany, former interim CPS superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust. “Charters, based on . . . being freed from restrictions of bureaucracy, should be knocking the socks off neighborhood schools. But they’re not. It’s a dead heat.”

Corp reformers can’t have it both ways.

If CPS schools are so awful, why  isn’t that the fault of mayoral control and Arne Duncan?


The day Gerber “Graduates” cheetos broke my computer

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

It all started 12 days ago with this image in the business section of the newspaper.

When I saw it, I knew I had to use it on my blog. Figuring out how it related to a timely education reform topic was secondary.

Yes, folks, that’s right. Baby cheetos. Gerber calls them “Graduates.”

That’s about as far as my thought processes had gotten when my computer decided that it could not process that or anything else, and it up and died.

So, I had a lot of time to think about Baby cheetos. I spent a lot of that time reading a lot of articles which I had printed out and stacked up to read “sometime.” I took handwritten notes.

And it didn’t take too long for me to read the sentence that made sense of Gerber Baby cheetos. It was in a 2009 masters’ thesis by Chandra Nerissa Larsen which reviewed President Obama’s early education policies and proposals as an example of neoliberalism. It’s a line she quotes from Henri Giroux that “neoliberalism capitalism performs the dual task of using education to train workers for service sector jobs and to produce life-long consumers” (emphasis added).

“Graduates” indeed.

A few days later, I actually saw a little bag of Gerber Baby cheetos hanging at the check-out line at Target. You know, in the “impulse buy” spot. Just to help the little ones start out early developing that all-American snacking habit.

And yes, reader, I did buy them. Just to taste them so you won’t have to. And yes, Baby Graduate cheetos taste just like grown up idiot drop out cheetos.

You see, for the neoliberals, or the corporate reformers, it’s not about quality, it’s about choice. Your choice of the c#@p they want to sell, that is.

What’s the connection to corporate school reform? Well, for example, when Catalyst asked how Chicago Public Schools justifies $76 million in increased funding to charter schools despite their lackluster performance and the district’s enormous deficit, spokeswoman Becky Carroll said that “our job is to not only help build high-quality schools, but expand the number of choices.”

It’s not really about quality, it’s about quantity and about selling the product.

And that may be good enough to produce junk food “graduates,” but not educated citizens.


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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.