SUBSCRIPT: 'Tough Choices' attack on democracy and public high schools makes another comeback thanks to $$ millions from Bill and Melinda Gates

[Editor's Note: Not all the bad ideas to destroy public schools in the USA were hatched and field tested in Chicago, although an awful lot of them were. Most days lately, Chicago school news has been enough to fill our time and space here at After all, with Chicago now the "national model" for what the Obama administration is calling "school reform," we owe it to those who care about democratic public education to publish as much of the truth about the racist attacks on public schools that continue in Chicago in the tradition of corporate "school reform" and the "mayoral control model." At times, however, we have to also look around and recognize that the enemies of democracy and public schools are not just planning and executing their plans in Chicago. For nearly a decade, billionaire Bill Gates has been funding the mindless attacks on American high schools, and seeding outposts of those attacks with millions of dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While we have reported on these attacks as they appeared in Chicago in Substance, people also need to see how they are organized from elsewhere. The following, from Jim Horn and Schools Matter, is a current example. 'Tuckerism' in this case refers to the notions pushed by neoliberal pundit Marc Tucker about limiting the high school education of working class and poor Americans under the guise of recognizing merit via ruthless testing. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance, February 21, 2010]

Gates Revives 'Tuckerism', the Plan to Make Senior High School shorter

In 2006 dweeb oligarch, Bill Gates, funded the writing of a plan to undercut American public high schools and to create an outlet for working class students to test out of high school and into a voc ed after 9th or 10th grade. The plan was called "Tougher Choices for Tougher Times," and it

offered a vision of high school as contract charter schools that are funded at the state level without local input or oversight. Here is a review of Tuckerism by EPI , and here is part of a post from last year on how the plan was moving forward, all the help of the prostitutes who run the NEA:

Did I say something about union sellouts earlier today? Bracey just posted at ARN the Ed Week link below that announces the NEA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers have split the spoils from the corporate charter school blitzkrieg that is now being unleashed against public education. They have agreed to support the Tucker

Plan (Tough Choices for Tough Times) that was pumped out of the sludge tanks in 2006. Here is the beginning of the evaluation by Miller and Gerson:

The "Tough Choices or Tough Times" report of the National Commission on Skills in the Workplace, funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and signed by a bipartisan collection of prominent politicians, businesspeople, and urban school superintendents, called for a series of measures including:

(a) replacing public schools with what the report called "contract schools", which would be charter schools writ large;

(b) eliminating nearly all the powers of local school boards — their role would be to write and sign the authorizing agreements for the "contract schools;

(c) eliminating teacher pensions and slashing health benefits; and

(d) forcing all 10th graders to take a high school exit examination based on 12th grade skills, and terminating the education of those who failed (i.e., throwing millions of students out into the streets as they turn 16). . . . .

Well, now the new Tuckerism is going to be piloted in 8 states as a result of Race to the Trough, and it looks like the initial phase is intended to create deeper class divisions by reverving senior high school for those who may have a shot a four year university education:

Dozens of public high schools in eight states will introduce a program next year allowing 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college

Students who pass but aspire to attend a selective college may continue with college preparatory courses in their junior and senior years, organizers of the new effort said. Students who fail the 10th grade tests, known as board exams, can try again at the end of their 11th and 12th grades. The tests would cover not only English and math but other subjects like science and history.

. . . . .

The program is being organized by the National Center on Education and the Economy, and one of its goals is to reduce the numbers of high school graduates who need remedial courses when they enroll in college. More than a million college freshmen across America must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree.

“That’s a central problem we’re trying to address, the enormous failure rate of these kids when they go to the open admission colleges,” said Marc S. Tucker, president of the center, a Washington-based nonprofit. “We’ve looked at schools all over the world, and if you walk into a high school in the countries that use these board exams, you’ll see kids working hard, whether

they want to be a carpenter or a brain surgeon.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationhas provided a $1.5 million planning grant to help the national center work with states and districts to get the program up and running, Mr. Tucker

said. He estimated that start-up costs for school districts would be about $500 per student, to buy courses and tests and to train teachers.

To defray those costs, the eight states intend to apply for some of the $350 million in federal stimulus funds that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has designated for improving public school testing, Mr. Tucker said.

Posted By Jim Horn to Schools Matter at 2/17/2010 05:01:00 PM


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