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Reform: Rapid Response in Connecticut

Most education reformers and funders don't come from politics or organizing so they are loathe to set up or pay for the kinds of "rapid response" operations that professional political operatives use to help minimize the damage that constant attacks can create. 

But -- like the first-term Obama administration with death panels and birthers -- they're starting to learn that there's a price to pay for letting attacks stand, no matter how extreme or ridiculous they may seem.

One small example is CT Education 180, a relatively new spinoff of ConnCAN set up to respond to attacks on elected officials and others who are getting torn down online and in the mainstream media. 

Its stated mission is "setting the record straight on education reform, and exposing those who are more interested in self-preservation than doing what’s right for the more than 65,000 kids in Connecticut who are stuck in low-performing schools."

Eventually, reform advocates may have to not only create and fund rapid response operations like this, but also efforts to criticize their antagonists.  But I'll save that for another post.  

Right now, reformers are fighting with both hands tied behind their backs -- refusing to defend themselves vigorously or in any organized fashion, much less to attack those who are pretty much their sworn enemies at this point.  

It's noble, I suppose.  But even as someone with plenty of complaints about the reform agenda and implementation, it's hard to watch.  

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What!?!? Reformers not fighting back? What about the Media Bullpen? What about the TNTP? What about the rest of those astroturf organizations?

Come on. From day #1 "reform" was rooted in scorched earth politics.

ConnCan fighting without hands? Its the ultimate sworn enemy of the teaching profession. In the rich state of Connecticut, of all places, why would an organization like ConnCan need to exist?

Here's the hard fact. They attacked us. I expect the reason why "reformers" attacked us was that we were a better target that social workers or firefighters. The attacks by ConnCan et al MIGHT have once had something to do with a naive desire to do good. Now, its revenge against teachers for not recognizing the beauty of their theories.

Reformers funded "Won't Back Down." Reformers fund Educators for Excellence in New York City. Articles echoing sentiments of reformers consistently appear in papers such as the New York Post. I don't understand the argument made in this post. Perhaps it's tongue-in-cheek? Satirical?

There are two attempts at sleight of hand here.

First, the poor, put-upon, victimized reformers, viciously under "attack" by their critics.

In other words, a fairly small group of people, with immense wealth and influence at their disposal, whose premises and terms of debate have gone largely unchallenged for years, and who are re-configuring public education in their direct interest, are to be pitied for the vile "attacks" they've suffered.

Mr. Russo is indignant on their behalf, and I suspect on behalf of human decency, too.

Then there's the attempt to inoculate himself against the (accurate) charge of slanted reporting, by making an unspecified reference to his "complaints" with the agenda of so-called education reform.

Try again, Alex. Two clear tells.

Here Russo is deliberately, selectively blind. The movement led by the lady with the broom on the cover of Time magazine, Oprah's warrior, is not fighting? It's hard to watch them get so badly mistreated by a ragtag bunch of hurting teachers? (One would only write these things if one had zero compassion for teachers who've been mercilessly slandered for years by mean-spirited people in the "reform" movement.)

Thompson does a good job of naming a tiny handful of the bullying efforts of reformers. But it's the tip of the iceberg: we are being evaluated by the scores of students we don't even teach. We are constantly seeing the word "tenure" misrepresented as meaning "unfireable" when these critics know it just means "due process". The list goes on and on.

I agree with Michael--Russo gives one little line about "BTW, I'm neutral here" to convince us all he has no skin in the game. Which is, of course, bogus.

Russo is here being a good soldier for the billionaire anti-public-services movement that owns his pen.

As a longtime political writer in CT, I'm struggling to write this between guffaws of laughter. Honestly, I can't believe you can print this rubbish with a straight face. Are we talking about the same ConnCan coordinated an opinion poll with the Governor Malloy's office to promote their agenda?http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/04/04/conncan-dropped-35800-on-opinion-poll-to-make-malloy-and-education-reform-appear-popular/

The same ConnCan that is working with former Malloy chief of staff Roy Occhiogrosso at Global Strategy Group? (In fact, wouldn't surprise me at all if CTEducation180 is Roy O's brainchild.)

For anyone who knows anything about the CT political scene, this is so clearly a shill as to be laughable. You're criticizing journalists for DOING THEIR JOB? For exposing unethical behavior by public officials? Pathetic.

Mr. Russo,

You are either naive, ignorant or the newest water boy for the privitization movement being peddled as "reform".

You see, sir, the word has been hijacked. The real goal is to destroy the unions, deprofessionalize teaching, enlist a churn of at will temporarily TFA temps, create new ventures via "philanthropy" and funnel the billions in taxpayer funds to the 1% and the eduprenuers.

The children and grandchildren of the uber wealthy (Gates, Broad, Bloomberg, etc) and their media concubines (Rhee) will be fine in private schools with small class size, a stable staff, no standardized testing, and national standards will not be foisted upon them. It will be very different for the children of the powerful, wealthy and well connected.

Would anyone be listening to Gates, et. al, if he didn't have an never ending supply of cash? I think not. Is there anyone who can tell the emperors they are clueless about what happens when teaching and learning in a classroom setting? It is a human experience with many variables and it can't be managed similar to creating a monopoly on a mediocre product.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.