Oh, how the Kings have changed since 1968.
Whereas Martin Luther King said this:
“... For most of the past decade the field of education has been a battleground in the freedom struggle. It was not fortuitous that education became embroiled in this conflict. Education is one of the vital tools the Negro needs in order to advance. And yet it has been denied him by devises of segregation and manipulations with quality.
“Historically, to keep Negroes in oppression they were deprived an education. In slave days it was illegal to teach a slave to read or write. With the ending of slavery and the emergence of quasi freedom, Negroes were only partially educated — sufficient to make their work efficient but insufficient to raise them to equality.
“The walling off of Negroes from equal education is part of the historical design to submerge him in second-class status. Therefore as Negroes have struggled to be free they have had to fight for the opportunity for a decent education....
“...The richest nation on Earth has never allocated enough resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige our work justifies. We squander funds on highways, on the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the overabundance of overkill armament, but we pauperize education.”
John King said this in a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on January 18, 2013 :
“The Department requires that, no later than February 15,2013, NYCDOE provide the Department with a plan, timeline and budget to accomplish the following, consistent with collective bargaining to the extent applicable, by March 1, 2013,” King wrote, before laying out exactly how much cash the state’s largest district has already lost – and stands to lose – if this directive is not met.
“…It is unfortunate that I am forced to take these actions, but the 1.1 million children who attend New York City schools deserve the very best education we can give them,” the commissioner continued. “The ongoing impasse regarding evaluations continues to deny them that education; we must take action.”
Ah yes - the 1.1 million schoolchildren in NYC, many of whom are children of color, many coming from families who live right at or below the poverty line, must be given the "very best education we can give them" and so Commissioner King is going to strip the city of $1 billion in funding, including $727 million in Title 1 funding, if teachers are not evaluated using the state's APPR evaluation system.
Because what better education can you give the kids than forcing them to take high stakes tests all the year through so that their teachers can be evaluated using a value-added algorithm developed by the state that has been panned as error-riddled, biased and faulty?
Because what better education can you give kids than taking their teachers, putting them on the Great Big APPR Bell Curve and ranking them from "Highly Effective" to "Ineffective" via various methods and forcing them to compete with each other because the state is going to look to fire the bottom 10% every year?
Because what better education can you give kids than failing to provide the millions in funding owed their district by the state from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit?
This is such a great education system that I bet Commissioner King will take his own kids out of the rich private schools he sends them to and put them into public schools so that they too can enjoy the "very best education" John King wants for the children in the rest of the state.
Oh, wait - he probably won't do that, will he?
Not any more than Obama will take his kids out of Sidwell Friends where teachers are NOT evaluated by test scores and kids are NOT taking high stakes standardized tests in every subject in every grade all the year through and where class sizes are small and teachers are NOT replaced by computer programs owned by Rupert Murdoch or Merryl Tisch's brother-in-law.
What would Martin Luther King say about these two prominent black men, Barack Obama and John King, as they promote their corporatist agenda on public schools that serve many kids of color?
What would Martin Luther King say about their education reform movement that seeks to close as many schools as possible in minority neighborhoods and hand them over to charter networks and operators, that seeks to fire as many black teachers as possible and replace them with blonde Teach For America temps?
What would Martin Luther King say about John King's threat to strip all that money from NYC, especially the Title 1 money that is meant to help remedy inequities in funding, because NYC didn't put a corporatist education reform teacher evaluation system in place by some arbitrary deadline set by the governor?
When John King shows up somewhere to give some jive speech about equity and MLK's legacy on Monday, the official Martin Luther King holiday, he ought to be met with these questions.
What would Martin Luther King say about the education reforms you promote where the aim is to churn out compliant consumers and obedient workers who know just enough to get the work done but not nearly enough to know how badly they're getting screwed by this economic and political system?
What would Martin Luther King say about your despicable threat to steal money from poor kids because your hedge fund and Wall Street criminal friends, the wealthy men who put you into your job so you could do their bidding, didn't get their corporate education reform teacher evaluation system by January 17?