Teach for America alumnus Ben Spielberg talks Vergara vs. California, teachers unions and why education reform without social justice isn’t possible.
TFA alum Ben Spielberg is now a leader of the San Jose Teachers Association.
EduShyster: Vergara vs. California, the landmark case that seeks to eliminate tenure for teachers, wrapped up this week. Do you think the plaintiffs made their case?
Spielberg: I’ve got to believe that they won’t win because their case was really bad. Even the experts they brought in to testify have found that there’s not that much disparity in terms of teaching quality between lower income and higher income schools, and because the statutes in question apply equivalently to low income and high income schools, it would be really hard to prove that they affect lower income and minority students differently than they do higher income students. I think that large part of the plaintiffs’ intention had less to do with winning than with waging a PR campaign against organized labor. The people who are driving this are generally wealthy interests that really dislike the concept that there are due process protections for any workers, not just teachers. They want all employment to be at will and they don’t want a collective voice. Continue reading
Is there anything Massachusetts can do to STEM the rising tide of mediocrity?
Once upon a time there was a little state with big dreams. We’ll call her Massachusetts as that is her name and, since 1993, she has been the standard bearer for educational standards. But the times they are a changin’ and the Massachusetts way of lifting all educational boats by making the school funding sea more equitable no longer seemed cool. Meanwhile a rising tide of mediocrity threatened her shores, a peril not covered by flood insurance. Fortunately a solution awaited on the other side of the pond: a raft of bold ideas for unleashing excellence. Continue reading
Education Reform, Inc. vs. democracy—now playing on a screen near you
When Netflix bazillionaire Reed Hastings proclaimed recently that, by their sheer relentlessness, charter school warriors will succeed in eliminating the scourge of elected school boards from the earth, the reaction from critics was swift and furious. “Like a shiny red apple that’s rotten to the core,” panned one hater. “Downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again,” trashed another. Continue reading
It’s the height of charter cap-lifting season here in Massachusetts, which means that talk of excellence and achievement abounds—along with plenty of wagging fingers (read threats) aimed at those who would dare to stand in the way of excellence and achievement. And things officially took a turn for the crazy this week when the fervent anti-cap-sters at the Pioneer Institute charged the state’s Secretary of Education with *anti-charter bigotry,* a disorder that will soon have its own entry in the DSM. Continue reading
Behind this week’s non-story is an interesting story…
What a week, reader! The excellence express rolled into the Bay State, carrying some seriously career-ready cargo—none other than Arne Duncan himself. What do you mean you didn’t know anything about it??? Now ordinarily this is the point at which I would lambaste you for eschewing excellence in favor of conducting your own race to the bottom of the wine box. But you’re off the hook. You see, almost no one knew that Arne was in town this week as his visit garnered nary an inch of newsprint. Which seems a little, well, odd, given that the battle over the Liftin O’ the Charter Cap is reaching its acme. Tin foil at the ready, reader. It’s time for another edition of *the story behind the story.* Continue reading