Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Did It!! Chicago School Board Approves Turnarounds

"We were all scared to breathe.  We closed our eyes and held hands and then one by one they voted to approve every one of the proposed actions unanimously!  We hoped for 3 or 4 schools, but we got a shut out!" cried Last Stand for Children's Monica Caldwell

Ms. Caldwell could be forgiven her excitement as everybody at Last Stand for Children First was ecstatic over the Chicago School Board's decision to turn around every single school on the list.  Only a few hours earlier Caldwell had joined dozens of other speakers at the open meeting. Caldwell's impassioned speech urged the Board to not be dissuaded by the poor academic performance of earlier turnarounds, the overwhelming parental sentiment against the turnarounds, or the deaths of students like Derrion Albert who were victims of previous turnaround policy, but instead to "make a bold move against the status quo, by continuing the 15 year old policy of turning around schools."

"Mayor Emanuel showed real leadership," said Last Stand for Children Director Myron Miner, "It isn't easy to stand up to crying children and angry parents.  A lot of people might have felt guilty and backed down.  That's why Emanuel is such a great mayor.  He doesn't back down.   I never believed it would be possible that the Board would approve every single one of these actions, but I guess having an appointed board makes it much easier.  I think the tears of children are like anything.  After awhile, you kind of build up a resistance."

The Board has shown that facts and opposition won't stop them from doing what is best for the students of Chicago and that's something we can all celebrate.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bidding War Begins for Chinese Educator

In Gao Bin's, previous job as assistant director at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (Foxconn), he oversaw a complex in  Longhua, Shenzhen, where hundreds of thousands of workers includes 15 factories,[worker dormitories, a swimming pool, a fire brigade, its own television network (Foxconn TV),and a downtown complete with a grocery store, bank, restaurants, bookstore, and hospital.  Now, he's coming to America and everybody from Stand for Children to Students First to our own organization have been engaged in an aggressive recruiting battle.

Gao may have become more willing to move on following recent negative attention drawn to Foxconn by worker suicides protesting inhuman working conditions.  The protests have spurred Apple to investigate worker complaints as Foxxcon makes their top selling products like the IPhone and IPad.  

While, Gao has no real education experience, his ability to get workers to work 18 hour days, sometimes without pay, seems to make him a natural for managing an education reform campaign or even an American school district.

"Up until a recent rash of suicides, his record of getting his employees working hard and staying on task despite tough working conditions and long hours has been nothing short of amazing," said an excited Michelle Rhee.

Gao's move to America is reminiscent of countryman Yao Ming's move to the NBA.  Unfortunately, job protections in many fields have limited Gao's opportunities even in a sluggish economy.

"Most workers can't be bullied here, but teachers can be.  We will get at least 12 or 14 hour days out of them," said a smiling Gao through his interpreter.

Asked if the language barrier would prove a hindrance, Last Stand for Children First Chairman Myron Miner responded, "It hasn't hurt Chris Christie.   Yelling is a universal language.  Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices for children.  I don't think it's too much to ask teachers to do the same."