A Top-Down "Caucus" From Catalyst

The Catalyst Caucus
is now online, Catalyst's attempt to create a kinder, gentler, more
"thoughtful" forum for discussing education issues in Chicago.  Check
out the top-down format, however:  One topic per week, with the
conversation led by education establishment types (Vivian Loseth, Mike
Klonsky, Robin Steans) saying mostly predictable and self-serving
things.  It's like an online version of those downtown luncheons BPI hosts every winter.

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Catalyst isn't alone in trying this controlled online format, and some people will no doubt find it more comfortable.  But in my experience this approach rarely creates candid, timely conversation that people want from a website, or elevates the voices of regular classroom teachers and neighborhood parents to the same level as the professional voices we already hear from all the time.  Check it out, and tell us what you think.


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  • on twitter mike klonsky is freaking out about my criticisms of the new catalyst forum


    nothing new -- last week he freaked out at my criticism of rhee haters who are trying to take her down over an errant comment, then accused me of hiding my comments when he simply couldn't find them.

    we do generally agree about andy rotherham, however.

  • Fact is, I can't really take the teachers or the parents voices all that seriously because they have a vested motive in whatever position they're taking. At least the "reformers" don't have actual skin in the game, though they may have ideological footing to promote or defend. Also the slant on this board regarding SPED is strange. I could easily get the impression that 100% of the students in CPS are SPED and that OSS is the only part of CPS that is disfunctional from reading this blog.

  • Sped is the canary in the CPS coal mine.

  • So Cermak Rd, which reformers don't have skin in the game? People like Michelle Rhee who have ridden this bandwagon to fame and fortune? People like Tom Vander Ark who make a very lucrative living as a consultant to education privatizers and then write a column promoting his clients? Or maybe you mean reformers like Dennis Bakkee and Imagine Schools who have opened up 74 schools nationwide in the name of reform and shady business dealings that have allowed them to profit substantially?

  • In reply to CPSJoe:

    In other words,.. Poverty Pimps! Moving from a cottage industry to big business. Incredible!

  • I am glad that I have been elevated to the status of being an education establishment type, because I am a caucus member interestingly enough. I have a real hard time seeing Mike Klonsky as an education establishment type either, I think one of the key areas that both Mike and I differ with the main stream education establishment would clearly be over exactly what the heck is being measured by the tests that create the foundation for NCLB. Another area would be how we look at the role of education for various minority populations, inclusive of students with disabilities, in the US that would I think place both Mike and I outside what I see as the establishment. From what I have read of Mike's comments over the years he does not share with the establishment a vision of education's central purpose as work force preparation, but rather I would say as human development.

    I just looked at the comment I wrote for Catalyst in relation to Mr. Huberman's first year, it seems consistent with what I have written on this blog.

    I am a critic of Mayoral control, but I also have to function within the context of that control to effectively advocate for students with disabilities. I think as I stated on that list that Mr. Huberman is in a very different situation than either of the past two Mayorally appointed CEOs, he is running a school district in the middle of a very serious economic downturn. This will prove to change everything, from how deals are cut or possibly broken with unions, to whether CPS can afford to open new schools or turn around schools, or even if CPS has to lay off teachers to keep the doors open in the next year or so.

    Now as to whether Catalyst's venture will be useful I do not know. I am glad I was invited to be in the cacus because for many years special education issues have not been discussed as a major part of the thinking in relation to school reform. Really special education outcomes are a nightmare, especially considering the cost factors invovled. For Catalyst to recognize the importance of this issue I think is a very good thing, there are after all around 53,000 students with disabilities in CPS today.

    Rod Estvan

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