I recently read with great interest a document released by Chancellor Joel Klein and enthusiastically titled a "Manifesto".
I had to plow through it a few times in search of any substance. There is no connection to what transpires in the real world. I read no definitive solutions, no practical remedies offered. I read rhetoric, more rhetoric based on initiatives, that are not supported by any research. Does this make sense to anyone? Let's write a manifesto and base it on a shaky foundation of initiatives proven to fail.
I wondered if whether this op-ed that Chancellor Joel Klein wrote was just excerpts from Education Nation's show producer's questions? Within hours, the best Education columnist on the planet, Valerie Strauss, picked it apart masterfully.
Later, teacher extraordinaire Anthony Cody superbly dissected it in his blog.
I returned to "why?" Why write a lengthy document easily repudiated and formalize it?
After four years of Latin, I'm forever breaking down words into their Latin meaning (a shout out to Sister Eleanor Farren!) Manifesto (manifestum) means "clarity" or "conspicuousness". The only clarity I saw in that "Manifesto" was that Joel Klein clearly demonstrated how little he knows about the world of education.
Valerie Strauss did a superb job dissecting this manifesto and all its salient, or lack thereof, points. Teacher Anthony Cody also picked up on more outstanding points in his smackdown today. I'd like to dissect the rationale behind this published nonsense.
In my best Andy Rooney impersonation, here goes...
Let's see, who creates a manifesto anyways? Manifestos are always politically motivated and usually written by someone in desperate need of swaying public opinion.
The last manifestos I read were, I suppose, the Unabomber's manifesto! And, then, there was Andrew Stack who crashed his plane into an Austin IRS building -- yes, he had a Manifesto on him! And then, there was Ron Paul in 2008, while he was running for President, he wrote an ambitious Revolution manifesto, and of course Mein Kampf manifesto by Adolf Hitler.
It sounds official though. Doesn't it? A MANIFESTO! Sounds as it it should be heralded in by trumpet first or read while being carried in on an elephant!
To me, Klein, Rhee and the handful of superintendents (backed by and/or trained by the Broad Foundation) just guaranteed themselves entry into the game show, "Jeopardy," category MANIFESTO AUTHORS. They are now trivia game answers, just like, Adolf Hitler, Ted Kazcynski, Andrew Stark, etc. This will be a tough question to answer in a few years -- nobody will remember it. It may qualify to fall under the "Double Jeopardy" category. It does for me!
A manifesto is always politically motivated. What's the motivation? Big foundations love this gobbledygook on paper -- makes them think this is the official word -- and oh, wait, let's affix some signatures and make it look even more official.
More empty rhetoric trying to be shoved down the throats of hedge fund managers to buy into this privatization scheme, more nothingness, no concrete solutions. I apologize to the authors but that is how it appears to me. I'm a parent who wants genuine dialogue between teachers, unions, parents and the Department of Education -- no more rhetoric.
Manifesto, manifesto, how do I renounce thee? Let me count the ways!