By William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz
June 20, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In a June 18 piece [Greek Charter School Raises Scores, And Some Hackles http://www.nysun.com/article/56791] New York Sun Reporter Susan Green seems to be establishing the moral relativist case for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, using a Greek charter school as an example to suggest that an Arabist indoctrination center run by Islamists will be similarly innocuous.
"The theme schools were put under a spotlight this spring when the city announced plans to open an Arabic-themed school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy. While some praise Khalil Gibran's global approach, critics say the school threatens public education's mission: to build American citizens unified by a single American culture."
However the author glosses over the dimensions of the basic problem inherent in "theme" schools organized around ethnicity; they are by design constructed to work against inclusiveness, further segregating and alienating disparate communities rather than being forces of integration and assimilation.
It seems especially odd - fifty plus years post the Brown vs Board of Education decision - that school administrators, educational professionals and agendized segments of the public would actively promote a modernized version of separate but equal.
Much of the impetus to make New York's school districts resemble little versions of corrupt institutions such as the United Nations is supported by a tidal wave of outside funding and run through the inappropriately named "New Visions For Public Schools."
New Visions functions as private conduit to channel this cash into an already failed educational system. It's the private face of New York City's educational elite and comprised of many of the same players. For example NY City DOE Chancellor Joel Klein is on the Board of Directors as is United Teacher Federation President Randi Weingarten and American Federation of School Administrators Jill S. Levy.
Instead of being about education the priority is now control, influence and money.
Robert L. Hughes, President of New Visions was intimately involved in the lawsuit, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. State, 86 N.Y.2d 307 [June 13, 1995] which sought to use the 14th amendment as grounds for squeezing more funding for NYC's schools from a state reluctant to pour good money after bad.
The players in this game are among the richest power brokers in the world.
Just one of New Visions programs, the New Century High Schools Consortium, "is funded by OSI, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a $10-million commitment from each." [source http://www.soros.org/resources/articles_publications/publications/sorosannual2002_20030801/k_bosnia_daylabor.pdf]
OSI is George Soros' New York based Open Society Institute, a major locus of extreme-left anti-traditionalist, globalist philanthropy [Soros funds MoveOn.org & the ACLU, for example]. The Carnegie Corporation is only slightly more moderate.
Gates' involvement in New Visions is elemental, its 800 pound gorilla. Some of the DOE's haste to shove KGIA down the throats of resistive parents and school children can be explained by the fact that much of the foundation's money is conditional - it must be spent by the end of 2007.
Below are just a few of Gates contributions to New Visions, over $54 million. The total is reported to be $125 million.
Mar 8, 2001 - $10,000,000 over 5 years to create small high schools and redesign existing large high schools with special focus on the lowest performing high schools in New York City.
Sep 18, 2002 - $1,439,000 over 2 years to create small high schools and redesign existing large high schools with special focus on the lowest performing high schools in New York City.
Aug 20, 2003 - $13,115,049 over 4 years to create small high schools and redesign existing large high schools with special focus on the lowest performing high schools in New York City.
Nov 22, 2004 - $25,106,639 over 5 years to create small high schools and redesign existing large high schools with special focus on the lowest performing high schools in New York City.
Nov 23, 2004 - $583,800 over 18 months to support the development of an operational strategy for campus design, facilities planning and visual branding.
Aug 7, 2005 - $831,997 over 11 months to extend the Evaluation of the New Century High Schools Initiative.
Nov 3, 2005 - $1,255,420 over 13 months to support the planning process to transform large New York City high schools into small learning communities.
Dec 1, 2006 - $2,441,915 over 2 years to create an online knowledge management system that will enable educators to share, test, and refine their work and make their work available to colleagues, peers, school and district administrators, researchers and policymakers. [source http://www.gatesfoundation.org]
What the above proves is that New York City's DOE is an unquenchable black hole for funding.
How does all of this factor into the controversy brewing regarding the Khalil Gibran International Academy?
Because KGIA is only the most extreme example to date coming out of NYC's preoccupation with multicultural, progressive educational experimentation.
Whatever else KGIA might be, it is the byproduct of a process now well underway, whereby outside funding - which under the best of circumstances could be the savior of public education - is being siphoned off by the very same educational dunces - like Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten ? who helped create and now maintain the system which has so emphatically failed.
Imagine what the positive effect might have been if some of the $125 million or so that Gates has wasted on NYC's public schools would have instead been allotted to the city's parochial schools, which despite facing daunting challenges can manage to graduate 90% of its students - Rice High School for example - in inner city hellholes like Harlem for half the price of those in Klein's little "social justice" focused theaters of the absurd?
The disruptive effect of this meddling outside philanthropy has instead led to a process that has funded the demands of a noisy Islamist minority.
From outward appearances at least, there seems to be far too many educational "professionals" in the NYC system who are willing to acquiesce. Others like the KGIA "partner" MSI NET, headed by John Abi Habib [who also happens to be on the committee to find a suitable premises for KGIA] already has several computer software contracts with the DOE which might be one reason he has become according to DOE spokeswoman Melanie Meyer, "an advocate for the school."
Given this drift, Mr. Gates entry into the picture might be seen in the future as having mainly served to corporatize failure, a concept one might have thought antithetical to the founder of Microsoft.
New York is not the only city in which this new "privately" funded motif is being employed; this is a nationwide movement and the response by the educational establishment is a mad rush to corral the hordes of private cash which are indiscriminately being rained down.
This is the catalyst for a looming battle to see who will control America's public schools, localities or outside forces with political agendas.
The historic American public educational model involved instructors, local school boards, government institutions and later, teacher's unions working together to design and run primary and secondary schools. This methodology placed the classroom teacher in a central role, serving as authority figure, maintaining order and imparting knowledge in a top-down manner [in large part relying on "classical" texts] to students.
The simplicity of this system worked reasonably well until the public schools got caught up in educational experimentalism. This "redesign" is widely perceived as having failed, given the wide gap between the academic achievement levels of foreign students versus those of Americans.
But haven't New York's test scores recently shown some marginal improvement?
That's not the way those most familiar with how the city's educational establishment operates explain it, suggesting that the small increases in achievement testing performance is a result of "gaming" the tests.
The Chair of the New York City Council's Education Committee held hearings on this matter, to investigate this possibility:
"Ms. Moskowitz's star witness was Robert Tobias. Several factors made him suspicious of the big jump in scores. "An unprecedented increase in test preparation has been widely reported," he said, "including the adoption of a new program" of repeated practice testing by New York City. "Much of this test preparation is not designed to increase student learning but rather to try to beat or game the test," [source http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/29/nyregion/29education.html?ex=1277697600&en=c4a442dc10da1055&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss]
It's not like New York City's funding of public schools is languishing, the DOE's 2007 budget is $16.4 billion, $9.2 billion coming from the city and $7.2 billion coming from the state. [source, NYC DOE http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/7F08F722-9C60-48D1-AD4E-5289EEDDD837/12070/CityAdoptedBudgetPresentation717.pdf]
With current enrollment of approximately 1.1 million students, that works out to an average cost per student of about $16,000
For counterpoint, the tuition fee for two semesters of post-graduate education [academic not professional] at the Berkeley Campus of the highly regarded University of California totals $9,578.50. [source http://registrar.berkeley.edu/Registration/feesched.html]
High dropout rates and low achievement hasn't stopped the left from demanding even more money while attempting to further politicize education. In April the New York the Dept. of Education funded a "radical math" conference, "Creating Balance in an Unjust World: Math Education and Social Justice." The purpose of the conference was to find innovative methods to inculcate students into leftist thought.
In his City Journal piece, "Radical Math At The DOE" Sol Stern highlights a quote taken from the conference brochure by Paulo Freire "the Brazilian Marxist educator and icon of the teaching for social justice movement. "There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to... bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of our world." [source http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-05-11ss.html]
Despite its myriad of problems, American education is drowning in money, but thirsting for common sense. The educrats' answer is to further damage the process by heavily politicizing it ["reinventing education"] all the while clamoring for even more funding because the resultant system isn't working.
The DOE's concern with quantity rather than quality and offers of aid to pre-empt resistance to the planned KGIA was highlighted at one contentious PTA meeting.
More than 100 parents were joined by a host of school and community leaders, including Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, City Council member David Yassky, and Garth Harries, the CEO of the Office of New Schools...
The meeting underscored parent's anger at the DOE's pattern of announcing plans without first soliciting parent opinion and by the way that schools are routinely asked to share space with new schools, sometimes compromising their own programs.
At the meeting, Harries offered parents an incentive of sorts, saying that adding Khalil Gibran to the building would create an "opportunity for attention from the highest level of the Department to make improvements in the building." http://www.insideschools.org/nv/NV_new_arab_school_may07.php
Given the template established by New York's DOE, examples of balkanized education like KGIA can't be far away from any metropolitan school district which harbors politically astute grant writers.
Follow the money trail, in the case of KGIA - thanks to the influence of indiscriminate and not so indiscriminate outside philanthropy - it will inevitably lead to a madrassah which would not be out of place in Islamabad.
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