Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Goal Of Education Reform Is To Exert Power And Control Over All

Education reformers love adding stress and pressure to the education system, ensuring people's livelihoods and reputations are tied to the high stakes testing scores.

Given the stress and pressure people are under, this kind of thing was inevitable:

The principal of an innovative West Harlem public school killed herself the day after her students took the state Common Core exams — which were later tossed out because she cheated, The Post has learned.

Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, of Teachers College Community School, jumped in front of a B train in the 135th Street station on St. Nicholas Avenue on April 17, police said.

She was pulled out from under the train and taken to Harlem Hospital, where she died eight days later. The city Medical Examiner’s Office ruled it a suicide.

The leap came at 9:20 a.m., less than 24 hours after her 47 third-graders wrapped up three days sweating over the high-stakes English exam — the first ever given at the fledgling school.

It was also the same day a whistleblower reported the cheating to DOE officials.

Parents were shocked and saddened to learn Worrell-Breeden died but were given no details at the time. It was rumored she was killed in a car crash.

Parents were in for another shock in June. Superintendent Gale Reeves told them in a meeting that all the third-grade English exams had been “red-flagged” and “invalidated.”

Worrell-Breeden had some challenges outside of her work life according to the Post, including the death of a parent and a marriage break-up.

And there is some funkiness around the way the story was released - with details of the death dribbling out over time - to make you wonder if the DOE isn't just scapegoating Worrell-Breeden now that's she dead and can't defend herself.

To that end, the Post makes sure they get in how Worrell-Breeden had been caught falsifying her time cards in a previous gig before the Teachers College Community School and docked two weeks pay for those actions.

Nonetheless, the stress and pressure educators in public education are under these days is real, which even the Post article acknowledges:

The tough Common Core exams have raised anxiety. In 2014, only 34.5 percent of city students passed the math tests, and 29.4 percent passed English tests.

“A lot of people are getting sick and leaving the system because of the pressure the high-stakes tests are putting on them,” a veteran educator said.

It's not just the high stakes testing, it's the constant concern over drive-by Danielson observations, the micromanaging that's going on in many schools, the despair many feel as they see their autonomy torn from them and replaced with EngageNY scripts.

All these stresses and pressures are real, here for good and getting worse by the year.

And that's the way the education reformers want it.

The goal of education reform is FEAR.

They want a system in which everybody, from the students to the teachers to the administrators to the district officials are in constant FEAR, worried about grades, test scores, observations, and the myriad other accountability measures used to gauge so-called student, teacher, school  and district performance and they do not care about the human cost of any of this.

When the USDOE tells NY State it must test every student, even students with severe disabilities who have no chance to pass the high stakes exams, and count every test score in the accountability measures for teachers, schools and districts, you know the message is "We do not care about children or you, we care only about our political agenda!"

When Governor Cuomo imposes an evaluation system that ties 50% of a teacher's rating to test scores of students they don't teach in classes they don't teach, you know the message is "We do not care about children or you, we care only about our political agenda!"

When NYSED rigs the Common Core tests for 70% failure rates in order to prove how "failing" schools and teachers in this state are, you know the message is "We do not care about children or you, we care only about our political agenda!"

When the Board of Regents hires a new "reformy" NYSED commissioner whose callousness and incompetence led to the deaths of three children in her former school district, you know the message is "We do not care about children or you, we care only about our political agenda!"

I don't know whether this principal from the Teachers College Community School killed herself because she was worried she had been caught trying to cheat on the ELA Common Core exams or not, but I do know that given the stresses and pressure in the system, it's quite possible that's what happened and moreover, the education reformers who have imposed their reform agenda, the Endless Testing regime onto the system, want it that way.

If there are sick children throwing up on exams, teachers smeared as "ineffective" based upon similar test scores results that declared them "effective" the previous year, educators at all levels of the system in constant FEAR and anxiety over the data - well, that's exactly the point of education reform.

And if someone takes her life because of the stress and pressure in the system, you can bet reformers see that as a small price to pay for so-called accountability as well.

This is a toxic system devised by toxic people who do not care about anything other than power and control over others - and FEAR is the primary tool they use to exert power and control over all.


  1. Yes.
    The reform movement is not a new thing. In fact its a very old thing here in the United States: unbridled capitalism. Thats all. If you want to know whats up, just read the history of the late 19th-early 20th century. The story of private interest exploiting natural and human resources. This is the last act of that play. Thats all. And fear has ALWAYS been a central part of that. Its how the capitalists and their yes-people sweep people towards acceptance. Its how the capitalists convince people they need them. Fear as a tool is not new either. None of it is new.

    There seems to be a large contingent of our side that really likes to tell themselves that we are "winning" because we are "right." Well yeah, sure, we are. The thinking and logic of our side is the logic of justice, humane society, civilization, inclusiveness. Sure we are right. However, there is NOTHING in history that says that being on the right side of an argument ensures a win. In fact, history is filled with people on the right side LOSING. Being right means not so much.

    There is alot of time and energy on our side devoted to winning the arguments.....marshalling all the research, demonstrating the rightness of our side. Well, lets be clear....its preaching to the choir. Its wildly redundant. Its a huge waste of time and resources. Our side is right for sure. There will be NO MOMENT when the other side says "oh shit, look, these people are right and we are wrong so we better fold up our tents!" The reformers are operating on the logic of capitalism. THEY ARE WINNING. They have historically won. Us demonstrating ad nauseum the ridiculousness of common core, VAM, etc etc etc etc is doing NOTHING.

    The only way to stop them is not via being "right." The only known counter to capitalist rampage across the landscape has only ever been ONE thing. A strong labor movement. Its not about being right. Its ABOUT SAYING NO AND PUTTING YOUR ASS IN FRONT OF THE JUGGERNAUT. Thats the path out of all this. Thats the path to winning.

    We will not win or be winning because our arguments are better. So many on our side believe in the pendulum, or that because we are "right" we will eventually win. This belies a ridiculous belief (superstition) that the universe somehow bends towards justice. The universe trends towards CHAOS, as Ta-Nehisi Coates makes so very clear, and thats it. (

    We must stop thinking we are winning when we are not. We must stop thinking that things will right themselves when they will not. We must stop thinking that at some moment our being "right" will matter. These are all superstitions and therefore stand in the way of our side truly winning and shutting down what actually is a neo-liberal, capitalist gargantuan bearing down on us. History tells us how to handle that. Weingarten, McGee, Mulgrew, etc....well, they are sitting in the drivers seats of a car we desperately need to take control of.

    1. Very well stated...the time for rational argument has ebbed...actions are necessary now, because actions are what will win the battle in reclaiming our public education system as well as our freedom.

      It should never have been about the argument...the "who is right and who is wrong" question...

      Educational experts have demonstrated time and time again about the dangers when business leaders and politicians challenge the credible research of educators regarding their vast experience and knowledge obtained over years in the field. That the business leaders and politicians tell educators to shut up and butt out, all the while claiming to have "input" from educators should wave red flags all over the United States. People like Weingarten and Mulgrew must be removed from their "seats at the table" through legal processes that the union may exercise in, and if that fails, then they must be removed by force if necessary.

      The privatization movement against public education might have been arrested in New York, and other states as well, if the union "leadership" had done its principle job of protecting the children and the system, by standing with teachers rather than by cutting deals in back rooms.

      Weingarten and Mulgrew are complicit accomplices in the fraudulent and harmful actions to destroy public education.

      They are thus, enemies of the people, enemies of public education, and enemies of the United States and must be removed and punished severely as such.

      A new union leadership must come in, and reverse the entire trend pushed by those who have sold out the children and the public education system...and bring justice, morality, dignity, and common sense preserve and protect the United States from enemies, both foreign and help them God.

    2. Thanks for seeing the point I was fumbling at.

      It just seems to me that on alot of these blogs (not so much this one, as this is one of the sharpest) where we, the resistance to corporate reform tend to congregate and exchange and argue, there is just alot of saying to each other that we are winning or will win and posting of yet another new article or whatever proclaiming how right our side is. Well to me that just isn't a resistance! For god's sake, I know I'm on the F'ing right side of the argument, now how are we going to win this war??!! is what I feel like yelling.

      It seems to me as well that the only path to really winning this war....well the only historical the unions. The parents, it turns out, are a great ready reserve, but they are carrying the fight now....but ya know what? Us and parents....well there is some daylight, when you get right down to it, between our interests and theirs. We overlap tons, but when the shit gets real heavy, like when we start talking about deep stuff like tenure, working conditions, pensions, morale, etc etc etc, well, we can't expect them to be on the ramparts for us.
      The unions are our only path. The problem is that the unions, via their historically bad leadership for the last decade or so, have become part of the problem. To me the real fight on the ground right now is the fight to take back our unions. Really. To many that seems impossible but that is step 1. Take back the unions. IF we can do that, then we have a chance against the reformers.

      So how about it? Instead of waiting for Cuomo to get indicted, or the mystery pendulum to swing back our way, or for reformers to suddenly see that our side has won the intellectual argument (these are all hopeless just in case some people are thick), lets start raising the flag in a real way via this blog and all the others to take our unions back! Lets have those discussions. Lets not get off put by some new study saying VAM is bullshit. (at this point, if you are reading these blogs, well, you should know down to your bone marrow that VAM and CCSS and all other such things are deep bullshit) Lets focus and do it. The unions. Whatever it takes. One step at a time. First we take back the unions. Then we clearly tell ourselves a profound truth: we are losing and can lose it all. Then we know who we are and what the score is. From that truth, we can mount a fight against these reformers.

      Just because our union leadership has PROFOUNDLY let us down does not me that we should abandon the idea that unions and the labor movement is what this is all about....not the validity of VAM and the latest Common Core math question nobody can understand. This is a labor fight, not an educational ideas fight. Lets start ACTING LIKE IT.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for the insight. Douche.