There is an old myth that vampires cannot be seen in a mirror. A vampire has no real substance, the story goes, so light simply travels through him, rather than bouncing back and creating a reflection. That myth came to mind when Tim Daly of the New Teacher Project recently asked “who’s a member of the ‘blame the teacher’ crowd?” and could not find a single person. Apparently Daly cannot see himself in a mirror.
If there was ever a question about the existence of the ‘blame the teacher’ crowd, it was surely put to rest by the response of many in the self-identified ‘education reform’ community to the prospect of a wave of teacher layoffs as schools re-opened for the 2010-11 school year. Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation, Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Wal-Mart Professor of Education Reform Jay Greene: the blogging boys of the educational right have told all who would listen that the education funding crisis and the prospect of massive layoffs was a good thing, and that the passage of the edu-jobs legislation mitigating those layoffs was the real disaster. With Lenin, they embrace the formula “better fewer, but better”: public schools would be better off with fewer teachers. After all, what do teachers have to do with the education of students?
Joining the educational right were the ‘all power to the boss’ technocrats that run in Wall Street hedge fund and Democrats for Educational Reform circles. First, groups like Education Trust and the New Teacher Project lobbied hard to amend the legislation to allow districts to layoff anyone they wanted, without regard for collective bargaining agreements, in order to make it so unpalatable it would never pass. When that stratagem failed, Education Trust and the New Teacher project teamed up with Joel Klein’s Education Equality Project and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in a campaign to kill the bill by denying it funding, opposing the efforts of Representative David Obey to redirect a rather modest fraction of the funds in other US DoE educational programs such as Race to the Top to this purpose. When the bill actually passed, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had to broker a deal to have the funds taken from the budget for food stamps in 2014.
The fact that the cuts to food stamps will not take place for another three years gives the real advocates for families in poverty – which include congressional leaders like Obey and teacher unions – time to fully fund the food stamp program well before the cuts would go into effect. We fully expect to wage that fight without the slightest bit of assistance from Education Trust, the New Teacher Project, the Education Equality Project and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, all of whom are well known for insisting that alleviating the effects of poverty has nothing to do with providing equal educational opportunity to the students who struggle with them every day.
But that is not enough for the likes of Kati Haycock of Education Trust, together with her trusty ‘yes’ man Andy Rotherham of Eduwonk. Having done their best to sabotage the bill and create the mess around its funding that led to the Duncan deal, they now [here and here] blame… the teachers. And yet, there is no one in the ‘blame the teacher’ crowd, right Tim?
Have you no shame? At long last, have you no shame?