A face of Philly ed reform likes the womenfolk silent and tending to the children

If there's any question about the intent behind the people driving Philadelphia's current wave of education reform, look no further than this galling op-ed by Mark Gleason, executive director of the Philadelphia Schools Partnership which has an explicit mandate to support religious schools and is pushing for expanding school choice at any cost:

I was struck that morning by one mother in particular. She had three girls in tow, two of them elementary-school-age and one too young for school. The two older girls wore blue shirts and khaki pants, and they carried backpacks and lunches that their mother had probably made early that morning.

I wanted to ask the mother about the specifics of her choice for her children. I wanted to ask what she thought about the SRC’s plan to transform the School District and expand the number of great public-school options in Philadelphia. But she was too busy making sure the girls could find seats on the train, tying the littlest one’s shoes, and reminding them about this and that. She was too busy taking advantage of her educational options.

It reminded me that public opinion can’t be judged solely by the loudest voices in a protest or public meeting. . .

But let’s remember the mother I saw on the train, and the other students on that train and many others. They deserve more great schools closer to home. If we could ask them if it’s important to expand the number of great schools available to them — if it’s worth it to give more kids the same opportunities they’re seizing — I’m sure they would say it is.

It takes some kinda something to:

  1. Reference Richard Nixon on anything in the hopes of gaining credibility.
  2. Equate a woman tying her children's shoes and finding seats for them on a train with "exercising your educational options" and THEN tie that to your own organization's promotion of a school district plan that seeks to dismantle public education in favor of a free-enterprise market.
  3. Project your ideas on women and children (is that one category or two?) with whom you don't bother to speak in order to speak for them.

Mr. Gleason, a New Jerseyan with a keen interest in "other people's children" (as Lisa Delpit has coined) bemoans the fact that a "handful of activists" have created a "myth" that SOME people out there actually support public education. He conveniently dismisses the thousands of parents who have been speaking out clearly and cogently against the Distict's plan for the past six weeks. He won't hear the thousands of grandmothers, aunts, mothers and sisters in the street yesterday speaking up for public education and a sustainable system of choice. He ignores the dozens of nurses who've marched every Wednesday since December against cuts that have the District saying it can assure nursing care only to the "most medically fragile."

He'll dismiss "activists with an agenda" yet hide behind Nixon's silent majority in order to promote PSP's own very explicit activist agenda. Consider Gleason's statements while he served as a New Jersey school board member:

"My problem is with the opposition mounted by the superintendent, board and community on the grounds that a charter school would take public funds away from public schools. The catchphrase of their argument is that Hua Mei would benefit a few at the expense of the many. In fact, that is what public education in America has done for many decades. All taxpayers contribute to cover the educational costs of those taxpayers who choose to have children and then choose to send them to public schools."

Damn it's hard living in a democracy.

What Philadelphians were promised by the District was a short-term financial plan designed to help stabilize the District. What Gleason confirms is that we got an ideological agenda driven by those who benefit the most through silencing the public.

In the playbook of ed reform, clear spoken women? Activists with an agenda. Silent women simply tending to the kids? Ah, yes. Just the way it should be.

Wow, touched a nerve, eh

Wow, touched a nerve, eh Helen? Ahh, the age old strategy of making personal attacks on the messenger when the message... or the facts or merits don't fit your agenda.

At least I'm clear about my agenda

At least I'm clear about my agenda.

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