Archive for April 14th, 2011
Ever wonder what it is really like to run a public middle school in the inner city. Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times has writtenan excellent account of the job of Ramon Gonzalez, principal of a public middle school in the South Bronx.
In certain respects, 223 is a monument to Klein’s success: empower the right principals to run their own schools and watch them bloom. Thanks to Klein, González has been able to avoid having teachers foisted on him on the basis of seniority. He has been able to create his own curriculums, micromanage his students’ days (within the narrow confines of the teachers’ union contract, anyway) and spend his annual budget of $4 million on the personnel, programs and materials he deems most likely to help his kids.
And yet even as school reform made it possible for González to succeed, as the movement rolls inexorably forward, it also seems in many ways set up to make him fail. The grading system imposed by Klein that has bestowed three consecutive A’s on González is based in part on how well 223 does on state tests. But the school’s relative success on these tests and other measures also disqualifies him from additional state resources earmarked for failing schools. The ever-growing number of charter schools, often privately subsidized and rarely bound by union rules, that Klein unleashed on the city skims off the neighborhood’s more ambitious, motivated families. And every year, as failing schools are shut down around González, a steady stream of children with poor intellectual habits and little family support continues to arrive at 223. González wouldn’t want it any other way — he takes pride in his school’s duty to educate all comers — but the endless flow of underperforming students drags down test scores, demoralizes teachers and makes the already daunting challenge of transforming 223 into a successful school, not just a relatively successful one, that much more difficult.
The “People’s Budget has been proposed by the 80 member Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus within the U.S. House of Representatives. The co-chair, of that caucus, Democratic Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, appeared on Democracy Now, perplexed that his budget, which is well supported by large numbers of Americans, is being ignored by the mainstream media.
We cut military spending in a significant way. The key to that, getting us out of Afghanistan and out of Iraq. And we take care—we deal with healthcare by reintroducing the public option, which could save up to $68 billion a year from providing a competitive choice for the American people. We didn’t do this on a lark. We have tracked every public opinion poll. And the American people want gas and oil subsidies to be cut. They want the rich and the corporations to pay taxes. They want military spending cut. And so, as we listen to the American people, our budget reflects that listening and really deserves a voice and deserves some attention.
Let’s mark this lack of attention to a populist budget another exhibit demonstrating the the national media caters strongly to big businesses that purchase advertising and to the affluent customers to whom those ads are often aimed. Can you imagine the outcome of the following question if put on a national referendum: “Should the United States remove its military from Iraq and Afghanistan and redirected the many billions of dollars we are spending in those countries to benefit Americans at home?” Or how about this one: “Should the United States continue paying gas and oil companies tens of billion dollars in tax subsidies?”