In Chicago, Troy LaRaviere has been fired from his principal position at Blaine Elementary School, partly because he sided with parents against high-stakes testing. Those who fondly regarded the outspoken administrator were stunned to learn of his ousting by mail. LaRaviere has been critical of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others in the school system.
I’d like to know why parents were not given some say into such a drastic firing decision. Why weren’t they included in the discussion concerning his behavior? Was it because all the parents would have cheered for LaRaviere?
LaRaviere recently stood alongside and in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders with parents and students, before the Illinois Democratic primary. Sanders has condemned LaRaviere’s removal.
Troy LaRaviere is also running to take over the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association labor group. Here you can read more about why this might be a concern for school reformers who are becoming increasingly more unpopular.
Troy LaRaviere has spoken out against the establishment and on behalf of children. He has questioned testing and other harmful public school reforms.
The board reprimanded him for comparing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing to exhaust fumes when answering a parent and siding with the Blaine PTA which pushed to get all students to opt out of the two-week test.
These parents aren’t alone. PARCC is highly scorned by many and tied to Common Core State Standards.
Like Common Core State Standards, PARCC has no track record of being a good test. It has been foisted on American students without acceptance by the public. Many Republicans and Democrats are critical of Common Core and PARCC.
But mayors like Rahm Emanuel and school leaders like former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett want principals and teachers to toe the line.
Bryd-Bennett was indicted in 2015 for corruption charges. She got in trouble for steering a $23 million no-bid contract to her former employer, education consulting firm SUPES Academy. This was done in exchange for bribes and kickbacks which included a college fund for her grandchildren.
Yet, Bryd-Bennett has a point about school districts losing money if students don’t take the test.
We can assume the funding is coming from the Obama administration and Race to the Top. The ties to corporate school reform run deep. If school districts don’t do what the federal and state education departments tell you these days—there will be repercussions.
And, yes. Like Tony LaRaviere, you might lose your job if you speak out too much. If children don’t take the required test they themselves may be punished too.
The problem for reformers, however, is this draconian top down management is not democratic and people are starting to get that.
It is refreshing parents at Blaine Elementary want to opt their students out of the test. They are bucking the national PTA which signed on to corporate reforms a long time ago.
Parents know they own their public schools. Parents can’t be fired. And if they pull together, and courageous teachers, administrators and parents get involved, change can happen.
My guess is Troy LaRaviere isn’t going away either.
Across the country, parents are standing up against high stakes testing. Teachers and administrators who question bad school reform are doing so as well.
If LaRaviere becomes the leader of the principal’s association, think what principals might do to lead their schools differently–better.
The push to end public schools as we know them goes to the heart of America. This isn’t just about Chicago or LaRaviere. It is about America’s public schools and who they belong to.
They are not owned by just Emanuel, governors, or the President. They belong to you and me. They belong to all of us.