CLASSROOM STRUGGLE

Strategy and Analysis to Defend and Transform Public Education

GO Teacher Policy fellow replies to our critique of NCTQ report

We want to highlight this discussion between two Oakland teachers, one of them working with GO Public Schools, the main sponsor of the National Council on Teacher Quality report that we critique below.  The GO Fellow admits that it’s valid to critique GO for not taking a position on controversial issues such as school closures, as well as admitting that there’s lot of division within GO around the problematic report their organization co-sponsored.  Lastly, the GO fellow self-identifies as a “socialist,” seemingly indicating the political heterogeneity of this organization.  We post the interesting discussion below for further commentary.

  1. aulintacruzApril 20, 2013 at 4:07 am Edit #

    I am a Go Teacher Policy fellow, and a long-time CTA member and site rep. in oakland and Hayward. I also consider myself a socialist. That said, I have never felt like a tool of Bill Gates or the capitalist school-privatization agenda that you are pushing. Ever since I’ve been affiliated with Go public schools I have not seen any substantiation to these rumors. The main push behind the Go Teacher Policy fellows has been to retain and maintain quality teachers in Oakland, where they are needed the most. There is absolutely nothing about privatization, or pushing for charters or any secret agenda.
    As for the report from NCTQ study, there are plenty of people within Go that don’t agree with all of the recommendations. Sorry to break it to you, but things aren’t as black and white.
    -Francisco Nieto Salazar

    • MaraApril 23, 2013 at 3:04 am Edit #

      Hi Francisco,

      Let’s just try to repeat back what you’re saying to make sure we’re getting this right. You’re saying that your direct experience with GOPS has been centered around developing and retaining quality teachers in Oakland, and that this direct experience contradicts the claims that GO’s political agenda is one that fits squarely in line with the privatization tendency that’s happening nationwide (and internationally). Is this correct?

      Here’s my thoughts, as an individual in CS. First off, you haven’t at all talked about the actual political substance, which is documented in this article. I’d like to ask you a series of questions and it’d be great if you could respond with your thoughts.

      What about Klein’s political ties with the foundations he works for? They exist, materially and it’s documented in this post. Do you think they have no political weight on Klein’s work in Oakland? Why or why not?

      The fact of the matter is that when the OUSD voted to close 5 schools last school year, at least one of which has been turned into a charter school, representatives of GO voted to have “no position” on the school closures. This means feigned neutrality in the face of austerity. Is this an acceptable political position to you?

      I agree with you that there are “plenty of people” in GO who are critical of the NCTQ report. We hosted a study group of 25 teachers in OUSD last week that had two attendees from GO. Neither one had anything to say in opposition to a slew of criticisms made of the report by quality, rank and file teachers. That being said, why have the “plenty of people” in GO not made a public criticism of this document? Would you be willing to do so? Why or why not?

      Lastly, you say you are a socialist. That’s interesting. What is your socialist critique of the findings in the NCTQ report? What are your socialist thoughts on school closures? What is your socialist critique of privatization nationwide? Most importantly, what is GO doing to counter privatization (this is a completely legitimate question because aside from its efforts at doing professional development for teachers, GO has put 100s of thousands of dollars into OUSD school board elections, so it is hardly apolitical)?

      Very appreciative of your engagement on our blog. Looking forward to your response!

      Mara

      • aulintacruzApril 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm Edit #

        Thanks for your reply. Honestly I wan’t even expecting to get approved. You ask what I think of the political substance of this post? I honestly don’t think there is much there, in terms of drawing a connection between the “lethal” school reformers and Klein. His bio and connections are no secret. Everyone knows about that, yet the post doesn’t really make any connections beyond that. I can’t say I know him that well, although I have had several conversations and haven’t found anything to substantiate the claim that he is part of some mission to privatize education. I am curious to find out if there is such a nefarious connection, after all, I am affiliated with GO as part of the fellowship and if there were such a “secret” plan to dismantle public education, I would very much like to know about it and see evidence. So far I’m far from convinced. This is the very reason I came upon your blog.

        I wasn’t affiliated with GO when the issue of school closures came around, so I can’t speak to that. My guess is that taking a neutral position was a cop out, or maybe they had disagreements at the board level, and came up with that position as a compromise. Like I said, the organization is made up of many people, none of them have ever shown the slightest hint that their motivation is to dismantle public education. But your criticism here is valid, no doubt.

        As for the NCTQ report, we actually go to hear from the report writers themselves, and had pretty heated back-and-forth where we pushed back at many of their recommendations. That said, I wouldn’t waste much time in fighting the report, being that not even OUSD stood behind it, so at this point, it seems like beating up a straw man.

        On the last point, I’ll respond later. I do have students to teach, and I’d love to engage further, but lack the time for a deeper-level Marxist analysis. But I will say this:
        I have been teaching for over 13 years and have been an OEA rep, a HEA (hayward) rep, and have gone to CTA trainings, worked on political campaigns and am familiar with all the discourse around privatization form all angles. I’ve been an outspoken critic of this for years. But I have also learned over time that the world is much more nuanced than a traditional dialectical analysis can reveal.

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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