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Magazines: NY Mag Profiles Brown, Declares Beginning Of The "Lawsuit" Era Of School Reform

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 14 10.50
Pegged to the court hearing taking place today in Staten Island, Vanessa Grigoriadis' profile of Campbell Brown in New York magazine (The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform) starts out with the somewhat expected description of what Brown looks like but manages to hit some interesting and useful points along the way.  Read it all below. Image used with permission. Photo credit: Dina Litovsky.

Much has been made of Brown's physical appearance, and that's what Grigoriadis starts out with as well:

Forty-five and wearing a gray turtleneck sweater and mom jeans, Brown has small, curious brown eyes, a volleyball player’s carriage, and a deep voice that’s pleasant no matter what she’s saying.

But the story  also includes an interesting take on the new lawsuit era coming to school reform:

We’re a couple of years past peak charter, when Waiting for “Superman” enraptured well-heeled do-gooders, Obama’s ­Education secretary dissed teachers unions, and school reformer and D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee surpassed even Harlem Children’s Zone guru Geoffrey Canada as a neoliberal education legend... These days, the energy in reform is with those who are ­taking the fight to the courts.

Grigoriadis attempts to put the Brown-teachers union battle in historical context:

Brown has become the latest vilified figure in a decades-long PR battle—between the teachers union, one of the last powerful unions in the U.S., and “reformers”—to rival the ugliest type of corporate warfare... The union has ­denigrated Brown as a patsy for her husband, and a pair of union-backed lobbying groups set up a website where she’s portrayed as a puppet being manipulated by two bankers with “1%” lapel pins. (Whether the union had anything to do with the site getting picked up by Twitter spambots seems an open question.)

Despite some obligatory snark, Grigoriadis seems impressed:

Is Brown a true believer or an opportunist hunting for a second act? All I know is she fact-and-figured me unbelievably hard during a two-hour off-the-record coffee earlier this winter and, in our on-the-record interviews, interrupted often to unfurl a study...

Rick Kahlenberg is quoted saying the Brown's attack on tenure is wrongheaded, blaming economic segregation on problems poor children face in school.

Who's playing the class card?  Both sides, really:

Reformers like Brown believe the union is ghoulishly acting in its own self-interest by putting the need for middle-class, stable, tenured jobs over the needs of disadvantaged children. Union allies agree that class warfare is at play, but point fingers at rich reformers telling middle-class teachers how to do their jobs in schools where they don’t send their kids.

Image used with permission. Photo credit: Dina Litovsky

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