Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross who was recently appointed to the
Montclair, NJ School Board by Mayor Robert Jackson was alleged to be
ineligible for the appointment due to his lack of registration as a
voter, a requirement for the position. The mayor followed up and has
concluded that Rev. Caldwell-Gross is eligible. He is now the swing
vote for putting the Board back on the path toward the privatization
of Montclair’s public schools. Meanwhile, Rev. Caldwell-Gross’
congregation is concerned that he is being used as a pawn in this
public education-privatization brawl. Stay tuned for further
As noted in this
column, the corporate Cartel of education reformers has established a
national, state level, and local coordinated assault on the
profession of teaching and of individual teachers. The scheme is
expanding on a daily basis and is being deployed by both Democrats
and Republicans across the nation. Organizations and individuals,
“who carry this bipartisan water,” keep coming in waves
even as local teachers and unions score victories over privatization.
The attacks have been devastating personally and professionally.
in low-performing schools have been especially victimized by the
corporate-constructed teacher evaluations with the so-called
value-added measurement (VAM) system designed to determine teacher
quality via their impact on student achievement on standardized
tests. Developed to weed out “bad teachers,” the VAM,
after rigorous assessment by a cross-section of scholars, has been
found to be a flawed tool for making decisions to sanction and/or
barrage of unfair criticism is having a deeply demoralizing impact.
A tragic case in point was that of Rigoberto Ruelas, a dedicated
teacher for fourteen years with perfect attendance in an
under-performing school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Shamed and depressed after seeing his rating published in the Los
Angeles Times, he committed suicide.
He was one of the early casualties of the Cartel’s war on
Belleville, New Jersey, Michael Mignone, the local union president
was brought up on tenure charges after questioning the teacher
surveillance policies instituted by the superintendent. Although he
had been rated highly in previous evaluations, he was suddenly deemed
ineffective. After a year-long struggle, in which he was supported
by thousands of teachers and the state teachers’ union, he was
vindicated, and the superintendent was terminated.
has resulted in the firing of teachers in numerous school districts
since 2012—Washington, D.C.; Newark and Camden, New Jersey;
Denver Colorado; New York City; and Atlanta, Georgia among others.
In Atlanta, teachers’ and administrators’ fear of bad
evaluations led to a major cheating scandal. But the corporate
education reformers insist on the continued use of this defective
school budget cutting at the state level is another favorite strategy
of the Cartel of corporate education reformers. Deploying their
resources to elect governors (mostly Republican) and state
legislators throughout the nation, public school budgets have been
downsized by tens of billions of dollars during the past decade.
Cartel has been so successful that in 2007, Dana Rone, an African
American and Newark City Council member whose campaign it had funded,
testified before the New Jersey legislature’s education
committee, asking that it reduce the budget of the Newark Public
Schools, the state’s largest school district that also has the
highest percentage of students qualifying for free- and reduced
priced-lunch. She claimed that money was being wasted and wanted it
re-directed to publicly-funded private school vouchers and corporate
legislature dutifully adhered to one of Councilwoman Rone’s
recommendations, escalating public school budget cuts under the
Cartel-backed Gov. Chris Christie from 2009 to the present. Christie
even changed the school funding formula and defied the New Jersey’s
Supreme Court’s decision to increase the funding of public
schools. In addition, at the Cartel’s behest, Gov. Christie
has under-funded the state’s contributions to the teachers’
pension system and has toyed with reducing teachers’ health
benefits during retirement.
corporate charter schools are the point of the spear in undermining
teachers. First, the Cartel uses its communications unit to ensure
that charter schools are referred to as “high performing and/or
high quality” irrespective of their academic outcomes, fraud,
and dismissal of students whom they claim are not a good fit.
Whether one is reading liberal (e.g.,
The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.)
or conservative (The Wall Street
Journal, Chicago Tribune, etc.)
newspapers or viewing MSNBC, CNN or Fox News, the references to
charter schools are the same. On MSNBC, the Cartel, via Microsoft,
funds the annual Education Nation forum that promotes corporate
solutions to the challenges of public education.
Cartel also funds Teach for America (TFA) to recruit and place new
college, non-education major graduates in troubled public schools to
masquerade as language arts, science, math, and reading teachers.
These novice teachers, who have been given temporary highly qualified
status as teachers for two years, have wreaked untold damage on
low-income students of color who have significant educational needs.
eighty percent of these supposed teachers leave after two years
placing the students under their charge in an ongoing state of
teacher turnover. Nonetheless, the Cartel-influenced print and
broadcast media overlook this reality and continue to heap high
praise on this corporate experiment.
the main purpose of the TFA initiative is to cause turmoil in the
teaching profession and to drive veteran teachers from the ranks.
Former Washington, D.C. schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, used TFA
to great effect when she discharged more than four hundred teachers
and support staff and replaced them with TFA members. Her main goal
was to reduce the number of union members with whom she had to
negotiate and to intimidate their local union. The same practice has
been repeated in numerous school districts.
Cartel also has links to search firms for senior school district
personnel and backs school board and city council members, mayors,
county commissioners/freeholders, and county executives in local
elections through whom they implement their education reforms.
of the Cartel’s most recent tactics is the creation of
Achievement, Opportunity, or other special school districts in states
with large numbers of low-performing urban schools—Wisconsin,
Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, etc.—where the schools
are placed under the control of corporate charters who make money off
at-risk students like the owners of private prison corporations do
we must recognize is that the Cartel is employing multiple approaches
to take over public schools as their populations become
majority-minority and are made up of poor students. In this way, it
is, perhaps unwittingly, recreating the segregated public school
systems that legally existed prior to the 1954
Brown decision as
our society is rapidly moving toward racially demographic pluralism.