"They don't gotta burn tha books they just remove 'em
While arms warehouses fill as quick as tha cells
Rally round tha family, pockets full of shells
Rally round tha family! With a pocket full of shells
They rally round tha family! With a pocket full of shells
Bulls on parade"
-- Rage Against the Machine 1996 - Evil Empire album
As the United Nations delegates gathered Tuesday in the big apple, United for Peace and Justice, one of the major anti-war/social justice coalitions, rallied thousands tying up the major arteries and intersections of NY City to protest the illegal war and occupation of Iraq.
In this backdrop multi-billionaire Eli Broad, the worlds 103rd richest man, and his Broad Foundation awarded Boston Unified School District the 2006 Broad Prize for Urban Education, the largest education prize in the country.
ROD 'Teachers are Terrorists' PAIGE listens as BILL CLINTON gives worlds shortest keynote
The 200 or so of us assembled at NY's Museum of Modern Art were also joined at the festivities by two former U.S. secretaries of education, Rod [teachers are terrorists] Paige and Richard Riley, as well as former President Bill Clinton who delivered perhaps the world's shortest keynote ever address - a whopping 4-5 minutes. 'The World is Flat' author Thomas Friedman last year gave an insightful and relevant lecture on globalization and its implications for US schools at last year's luncheon. So, Clinton's extreme brevity caught many of us by surprise.
BOSTON finally recognized!
I was happy to congratulate recently retired Boston Superintendent Thomas Payzant for his district's great work over the years. Our district [San Francisco Unified] had been a finalist last year when Norfolk VA won the prize, but Boston has been a finalist for the Broad Award every single year. Payzant seemed as if he had expected his district to be chosen this year.
The day before, I joined many education policy folks at the Hilton Hotel for a symposium on best practices for urban school districts. Many panels were filled with VIP superintendents, corporate-sector education philanthropists [Gates Foundation, Business Roundtable, etc.], but only a handful of teachers from NY's UFT and a few teacher's union heads from a few school districts.
BIG BUSINESS AGENDA - SUPERINTENDENTS ON PARADE
The type of superintendents promoted by Broad, the Business Roundtable and the big business philanthropists included many of the nation's 'superstars' like Miami's Rudy Crew, NYC's Joel Klein, our former SF Superintendents Arlene Ackerman and Ramon Cortines who is now advising LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and many others. Oakland's despised former state overseer Randy Ward who was recently ousted from his position according to the East Bay Express was also featured on a prominent panel as well. For the historical background on Oakland parent and students' fight for educational justice see the Data Center's report on school district takeovers in California.
The Broad Foundation also acknowledged their 3 'cohorts' of Broad interns who are generally Ivy league and elite business and education school grads who have been placed in urban districts throughout the country like SF and Oakland over the past few years.
I was very happy to see Boston and Payzant acknowledged for their 'laser-like' focus on equity, achievement for all, meaningful parent involvement and professional development for teachers. Yet, if I had a dollar for every time the mantra "competition is good for education" was repeated during the 2 days, I would also be a very wealthy man....
For more on the Broad Foundation's 'broad net' of big business influence in school districts throughout the US - see Susan Ohanian's analysis from the book she co-wrote with SF Freedom School founder Kathy Emery - Why is Corp America Bashing Our Schools
see also my blog from last year's Broad Awards