Skip to toolbar
HomeUncategorized5/15 News Roundup and Open Thread
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

thanks so much for all the diaries promoting down ballot progressives, @jcitybone! you’ve inspired me to make small donations again. and tweet & FB. not that anyone pays attention to my political FB, lol.


A Privatization Fever Dream for Post-Crisis Public Education

Millions of students are now learning from home, and pro-charter, anti-teacher forces are trying to seize the moment.

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state will partner with the Gates Foundation to “reimagine education.” “The old model of everybody goes and sits in a classroom, and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state; all these buildings, all these physical classrooms; why, with all the technology you have?” he asked at the briefing. It was a revealing, troubling question.

Meaningful education is built on connection, and fostering relationships requires proximity. This is what a classroom does. It’s a space for students to establish relationships while experimenting with being in public. And while we don’t yet know the details of Cuomo’s plan, there’s reason to be suspicious. The Gates Foundation’s top-down approach to education reform, along with Cuomo’s history of supporting charter schools, inconsistency around unions, and exclusion of New York City educators from the project’s council, suggest a deeply undemocratic push to defund and privatize the public school system.

American public schools—“all these buildings, all these physical classrooms”—are cultural spaces as much as they are physical locations. Cuomo’s reimagining threatens to flatten public education into informational transaction, turning teachers into tech support in the process.

We have long struggled, as a country, to use technology to provide public education at scale. …

American public education is not just a platform for coldly disseminating ideas. It’s a living organism. Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in New York City, as my students and I have turned to remote learning, it has never been clearer how necessary the physical classroom is to how we learn, and how many people in power fundamentally misunderstand what public education is. During an interview in mid-March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that, despite mounting pressure to close the schools, “the biggest union in New York City, 1199, the health care workers, asked to keep them open because they said our members are dependent, and they need to get to work at the hospitals.” The implication was obvious to many teachers: We were being mobilized during a crisis as a substitute for childcare, which is a deeply necessary social good but a distinct one from public education.

It’s clear students, at least, understand much of what our political leaders can’t grasp about public education. My students miss the dynamism and zaniness that define a classroom of adolescents, and they miss momentary escape from their defining roles at home. They know what school is, both what they’re there to do and what I’m there to do with them. When I write college recommendations, I ask students to submit a questionnaire reflecting on our time together. Last year, one said, “Writing became something you encouraged us to do when we felt most confused or frustrated, times when I was most likely to give up on doing something. I began to see writing as a way to convince people about the things that meant a lot to me.” Reading students’ faces, peering over their shoulders, and responding to their frustrations and their breakthroughs is integral to helping them match tools to occasions. This sounds saccharine, but it’s real. Those relationships are harder to cultivate on a screen.

Cuomo’s question about whether we need physical classrooms anymore indicates an impulse to redefine not only the shape but the purpose of education. Historically, for the Gates Foundation, notions like growth, agency, and connection have come second to producing data. The Gates Foundation’s role in the state council, while still ambiguously defined, raised alarm among many public school teachers because of the organization’s aggressive, mechanical approach to reform, especially its history of pushing Common Core standards, developed for use in every public school classroom across the nation. The goal for these standards is purportedly college and career readiness, but it’s really test prep. In 2011, McKinsey alum David Coleman, one of the initiative’s architects and a supporter of the charter movement, explained the writing standards’ focus on formality and impersonal modes while exposing the movement’s ethos: “As you grow up in this world, you realize people really don’t give a shit what you feel or what you think.” And just as implementing these standards risks turning students into mechanical recipients of knowledge, the Gates Foundation model seeks to turn teachers into much the same thing: The organization has supported linking teacher evaluation to standardized test scores, a practice since debunked as a misuse of the data. (Cuomo was an ardent supporter.)

This isn’t unique to New York. Over the past decade, under the aegis of both Betsy DeVos and ostensibly progressive Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, governors of Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, Indiana, and other states have proposed or followed through with cutting public school budgets in favor of privatization. Education is expensive, the thinking goes, and the market can subsidize the cost. The writing on the wall seems to point to broad standardization and privatization of education.

“We get moments in history where people say, ‘OK, I’m ready. I’m ready for change. I get it,’” Cuomo said in his remarks last week. “I think this is one of those moments.” It is. But that opportunity, taken as an invitation to further privatize and standardize, will only become another crisis. Times are grim, and America’s social fabric is fragile. Information infrastructures are in danger. In order to “really revolutionize education,” as Cuomo said, we should reflect on its central purposes. The American public school classroom should be an empowering space. A weird, messy, vital place of experimentation and collaboration. Public schools facilitate that opportunity for students, to think both critically and imaginatively and to agree on some kind of common reality. In the best cases, public education helps students situate themselves among broader communities than they may otherwise encounter while building civic trust. It helps them become adults, slowly, clumsily, day by day. There’s no app-based replacement for that.

bolds mine


Mixing Cuomo and Gates together is not a good recipe.

Did someone ask Cuomo about HIS childhood education? I mean, he probably grew up in an elite school with a famous dad? Did he not benefit from having actual classmates? Did he not participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities in which he actually got to interact with fellow human beings?

Did CUOMO grow up sitting at a computer for HIS childhood classes??



No matter what I tried I was not able to hear what she said.😕 Did anyone hear it?


my Twitter is broken right now, so I don’t have the exact quote, but it was something like we are not going to elect Biden as the nominee.

As someone pointed out, she was likely trying to say that he will not get enough delegates before the convention and so he would have to be elected at the convention so there would have to be a convention.

but if you just hear it, it’s pretty jarring and then funny, Especially for those of us who would really like that outcome


Thank you.😊


after learning it helps too many people.