Campbell Brown was just on Morning Joe again with David Boies as her new Chairman of the Partnership for Education Justice to fight teacher tenure. Remember David Boies, the respected, folksy, tennis shoed, liberal lawyer of Gore v. Bush fame? He has had many other high-profile cases too. I’ve always seen him as a good guy. Sorry, Mr. Boies. You just lost me.
Here is what is really fascinating and part of why I always respected Boies. He is the son of two public school teachers. He had dyslexia and didn’t learn to read until third grade. But he did attend public school—Fullerton Union High School in Illinois. And those teachers taught him how to read, I take it, or they helped him compensate for his reading difficulties, and pretty well. Mr. Boies graduated from Northwestern University in 1964, and he has law degrees from Yale and New York University. Not bad for a kid with dyslexia who attended public school and had public school teachers.
In fact, if anyone could be the poster child for success at a public school, David Boies would be that person. But it is apparently not to be.
Mr. Boies and Ms. Brown really try to make it sound like they are all about doing teachers a big favor. But you have to know right away, that they are both advocates for charter schools. Brown is on the board for the Success Academy Charter School. This is the charter group that is often accused of pushing students with special needs out. If Boies had been a little boy today and applied to go there, I don’t think they would have wanted him. And if he’d returned to a regular public school where special ed. classes had lost funding and credentialed teachers, well, maybe Mr. Boies would not have grown up to be who he is today. I say this because I actually know of children today who aren’t getting the help they need for dyslexia due to the cuts that have taken place in their public schools.
Boies himself spoke out in favor of charters last June in the Wall Street Journal. He said, “We are becoming a nation of haves and have-nots. That is traceable more to who gets what education and who doesn’t than any other single factor, in my view.” Here he admonished the teachers unions’ attempts to restrict charter schools. He clearly was already looking for a lawsuit claiming, “there has to be fundamental reforms in the way our educational system is delivered.”
Speaking of civil rights, Mr. Boies’s concern about haves and have-nots as such a knowledgeable lawyer is quite puzzling. He has been around for quite a while at age 73. Does he not know the history that has occurred since Brown v. Bd. of Education? If he did, I think he would recognize that he is barking up the wrong tree.
For example, in 2010, the UCLA Civil Rights Project determined charter schools “isolate students by race and class,” and an analysis by the Education and Public Interest Center, found educational management-operated charter schools, compared to the public school district in which the charter school resided, were more segregated by race and wealth, and they had fewer students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
Also, I’m wondering why he didn’t get on his soapbox back in 2007 when Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education succeeded in ending race to dominate student placement. The bitterly divided Supreme Court dealt a blow to diversity goals when they voted 5-4 that race could not be a factor in public school student assignments. This decision continues to threaten integration plans in real schools in school districts across the country. Up until then we had been making some progress with real integration of public schools. (See my little story here.) Gee. I know all this and I’m not even a lawyer!
This leaves me wondering if Mr. Boies doesn’t think diversity has anything to do with good schooling and that Brown v. Bd. of Education was just for nothing.
In addition, almost everyone on today’s Morning Joe, which has become the go-to program to hear some of the most unbelievable teacher bashing ever, bragged about having parents who were public school teachers, yet, oddly, they praised Teach for America, those young kids who they seem to believe will change education with their two year stints in the classroom and their five weeks of training. I mean, nothing says you love teaching more, than going into it because you can’t find a job in your real chosen fields. And I wonder, will America’s schools and its students stand up in a world economy, when the powers that be dump on career teachers and promote teaching as a Peace Corp venture?
Isn’t that gratitude for you?
I’d like to put a plug in here for older Americans too. I’m wary about hearing how much better Teach for America teachers are because they are young (leave out the fact they have little preparation). The fact is experience for teachers is often something very good when it comes to teaching—just like any other profession. For quick proof of this, read Leonie Haimson’s excellent piece of research in Parents Across America. HERE.
Why is it age is only a factor in teaching? If you want to make age an issue, Boies, at 73, should have retired a long time ago. And let’s not bother considering Hilary Clinton for president. Jeb Bush is too old too.
Speaking of Florida’s Governor. Sometime into the program, a subscript flashed on the bottom of the screen saying that Jeb Bush thought this lawsuit against teacher tenure was courageous. I thought that was a rather odd nuance with David Boies on the program. It speaks to the larger issue Scarborough allotted to earlier in the program, that Dems are now out for the same reforms as Republicans. If you haven’t figured that out by now you haven’t really been paying attention. Bush, by the way, has silenced himself lately on Common Core State Standards. Politics. You just never know which way the wind is going to blow.
Team Brown and Boies talked a lot about ensuring higher salaries by ending tenure. They are ultimately not for unions. But who are they kidding? Everyone knows that the only way teachers will get higher salaries and professional treatment is if they are allowed to sit down at the bargaining table. Unions negotiate higher salaries for teachers. Without unions, teacher salaries are depressed and teachers can be fired on a whim.
This is often the case in charter schools. Most charter schools pay teachers below what teachers make in traditional public schools and they usually get fewer, if any, benefits, and that includes health insurance.
Brown and Boies speak about ineffective teachers, but the effective teacher is one that can speak out confidently, without fear of retribution, against programs or situations they deem ineffective or wrong for children—like Common Core State Standards. Teachers who worry about job security will not speak out. They will be forced to do what they are told, even when they think it is wrong, or when it means pushing children to learn how to read before it is time. Here! Please read this Mr. Boies…you too, Ms. Brown.
Mr. Boies brags about having Teach for America to his place for a picnic! I can’t help but wonder how he would like young recruits with a couple of weeks of training taking over his job at his fancy law firm. How about Lawyers for America? Or would he have liked it if his parents had lost their jobs due to Teach for America?
But mostly, having been a special education teacher, I have to wonder how many students with dyslexia are going to learn how to read with a Teach for America recruit. Boies, of all people, should realize how much preparation it takes to understand the dynamics of teaching reading, especially corrective reading. Real professional teachers need more not less preparation. Does he think enthusiasm is all you need?
And instead of picnicking with Teach for America, maybe he should be doing some real research. While some like to dispute this, both he and Brown should at least learn that, for the most part, the states with the highest test scores have always been the states where the teachers’ unions are strongest and the teachers have tenure. Actually, it has always been sort of a given. No offense to my southern friends. I did not make this up. This is what I’ve been told.
No. Boies has friends in high places is my guess. And none of them, I repeat none of them, are friends to teachers or the students those teachers try so hard to nurture and protect. While there are some teachers, like there are individuals in any profession who are less than ideal, these people paint all teachers with one broad stroke. They have a larger agenda in mind.
For me, a rather creepy part of the Morning Joe program was at the very end when they were all chuckling in reference to the negative tweets Campbell Brown got before going on The Colbert Report. She calls all of us “haters.” I guess they think anyone who disagrees with them is a hater…which, according to the huge number of people who tweeted, is a lot of people.
Tomorrow, or later this week, AFT President Randi Weingarten will be on the program. Will she come out fighting tough, or will she provide only lukewarm banter?
In any case, if you read this Mr. Boies, I’d appreciate if you would please go thank a real teacher.