A Hard Sell

Heading into tonight’s 2nd Annual Bristol Economic Development Forum, I promised myself I wouldn’t make comments or ask questions of the panelists — a veritable who’s who on the Bullraker education deformer shit list. I wanted merely to bear witness to the encroaching corporatization of Bristol-Warren public schools… and, in a way, I got my wish.

Despite preparing two statements during the forum and having my arm raised for close to a half hour waiting to be called on during the Q&A session, I was continually passed over by the moderator (a.k.a. Bullraker gadfly, Mike Byrnes). I can’t speculate whether Mike did this intentionally, though he has made it quite clear on this blog that he disagrees with my take on the education deform movement. However, I am certain that without an open and honest debate on the topic, we risk being sold a bad bill of goods. But, let’s face it, telling the truth about the deforms would be a much harder sell. And that’s bad for business!

In case anyone out there is curious, here were the comments I intended to make:

I have responses to two statements made earlier by Angus Davis.

The first is in regard to the U.S. spending over half a trillion dollars on K-12 education per year, even more than what we pay for defense. I’m for one am glad that’s the case. In fact, we should be spending way more on education than defense. And I don’t say this lightly. I have two advanced degrees, one in Mathematics and the other in Teaching & Curriculum, and I’d much prefer to be a teacher than a defense contractor. Unfortunately, one job pays 3 times more than the other! If we believed in education, then we would fund it like we believed in it. Not cut millions from schools districts!

The second thing I want to address is the notion that “innovative” ideas, like trying to bring Achievement First (AF) charter schools to Cranston, are regarded as controversial simply because people fear change. That’s untrue. I don’t fear positive change, but I do have serious doubts about whether charter management companies like AF can bring about positive change.

Here are a few sources that back up my position and will hopefully enlighten Mr. Davis and others on the genuine criticisms of the types of reforms he espouses:

5 Responses to “A Hard Sell”

  1. bristolbullraker Says:

    If there’s one positive to take from the forum, I was hopefully able to “Patch” things up with a certain reporter that I criticized too harshly in a previous post.

  2. Arne Duncan in Providence on November 2 | Rhode Island Red Teacher Says:

    […] that all the education deformers are now talking shop in “economic development forums”, such as the one held in Bristol a couple weeks ago, starring our favorite local rich kid Angus Davis.  “Economic development”, […]

  3. Michael Byrnes Says:


    Sorry you did not get a chance to say your peace at the Forum. The discussion was active to say the least. I did see your hand up but right after that you left before the discussion was over.

    It seems that your arguments have degenerated down to name calling – the “deformers”.

    On the money issue that Mr. Davis raised – I think his point was that we should fund education but that funding beyond a certain point did not produce better results. After generously funding a number of education initiatives without moving the needle much, Bill Gates makes the same point. But then he is just another one of those rich kids. There does not seem to be a direct correlation between school district spending and results.

    That Arne the Red fails to recognize the connection between education and economic development is yet another sad commentary on our education system and a lack of understanding on how the world works.

    We have discussed this before, but your and Arne’s slam against Mr. Davis for being a “rich kid” is gratuitous and a weak substitute for a reasoned argument. You seem to be suggesting that there is something intrinsically wrong with having money.

    You and Arne the Red seem to be taking the old Soviet road of trashing success and establishing fairness by tearing down successful people to reach the lowest common denominator. Would it not be preferable to build people up to higher levels?

    Best, Mike

  4. bristolbullraker Says:

    Like you, I too feel that name calling is inappropriate (and I’m sure “Arne the Red” would agree) but, in my case, I think it’s simply a sign of desperation from a concerned citizen who is starting to realize these education reforms are probably going to happen regardless of how much evidence contradicts the claims of the reformers.

    As you said, there are no substitutes for reasoned argument… And I’m still waiting for one from the opposing side. But when millionaires like Davis start throwing money around to win over politicians and spin the message in their favor, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I wonder how many people have even bothered to read the sources I’ve provided.

    By the way, I find your take on Duncan curious because he’s in full support of the education reforms I’m railing against. I don’t see how he and Davis are at odds with each other and bet dollars to doughnuts Angus will be in attendance at Wednesday’s $300-a-plate reception of “Arne the Red” at the Providence Convention Center. In case you’re interested, Occupy Providence will be outside protesting the event. We’d love to have you!

    I also think you’ve got me all wrong when it comes to the lowest common denominator thing. My wife and I were prepared to send my daughter to BWRSD because we believed she would get an excellent education. That is, until the state cut millions from the district and began offering ready-made solutions to the crisis they just caused.

    Now instead, believe it or not, she’s going to one of the elite private schools that Davis was kicked out of when he was a kid! So, in a way, I should thank him for all he’s done for my family — like teaching us that money talks, but we shouldn’t always listen.

  5. bristolbullraker Says:

    From the Occupy Prov website (http://www.occupyprovidence.com/):

    Wednesday, November 2nd at 3PM and 5PM: Tell Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to SAVE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
    This Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Rhode Island. Secretary Duncan has led the national attack on teachers and the movement to corporatize public education. He will be speaking at $300 a plate dinner at the Rhode Island Convention Center on how to “reform” urban public schools. Join Occupy Providence and the Coalition to Defend Education for a rally at 3PM at Providence Career and Technical Academy, followed by a rally outside the Convention Center at 5PM.

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