Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reform School

Tonight, State Education Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan, hosted a High School Reform session at EO smith that lasted almost two and one half hours. Billed as a listening tour, it was no such thing.

If by "reform", McQuillan meant jumping into Peabody's Wayback Machine to visit a 1950's high school which will serve as a model for 2015 then you have an idea of what the State Department of Education is attempting to ram-rod into the legislature.

A panel of partisan hacks put together a "plan" (call it putting lipstick on a pig) for high school reform that essentially calls for legislating more testing, more central State control over curriculum, more uniformity in class offerings across the state, fewer electives, and accommodating a vision of the future that Nostradamus warned us about.

McQuillan was a doubleplusgood duckspeaker that George Orwell would have been proud of. McQuillan listened and carefully dove-tailed every comment, criticism, and compliment into the absolute requirement that "we must do something instead of nothing" and that something was the Republican Department of Education initiative to centralize control of secondary education to the state and away from the elected and accountable Regional Boards of Education.

McQuillan said he was stumping "to win the hearts and minds" as if the State had declared war on the voters and the Governor had decided a George Bush type dictatorship was in the best interest of education. The explicit message the tour recited was, "we want your input" but more than a few attendees got the feeling that they wanted the input to marginalize, ignore, and neutralize it. McQuillan was not attending to gather better ideas or to throw out the State's own handiwork if need be.

He was there so that the district could "Meet the New Boss".

Want to get depressed? More of these meetings are scheduled around the state.

Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

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