Thursday, July 19, 2012

Edith Shanker Puts Laura Waters, Chris Cerf, & Joel Klein In Their Place.

I am floored by the utter arrogance of this statement from Laura Waters.

Here's a fact.
If Albert Shanker was alive today he'd still be an education reformer and would support NJ's efforts to expand school choice for poor urban students.

Jersey Jazzman already did a great job of telling Laura Waters how preposterous it is for her to state as "fact" what Albert Shanker would or wouldn't think, feel, or do.

I guess maybe Laura has a ouija board now with which she communes with Shanker to get his answers. But here on planet Earth, Ravitch's post was directly quoting from Shanker:

In 1993, when Shanker saw that the charter idea was going to be used to privatize public education, he turned against charter schools. He opposed the takeover of the charter idea by corporations, entrepreneurs, and for-profit vendors. He became a vocal opponent of charter schools when he realized that his idea was embraced by “the education industry.” In his weekly column in The New York Times, Albert Shanker repeatedly denounced charter schools, vouchers, and for-profit management as “quick fixes that won’t fix anything.”
Before Water's derided Dr. Ravitch, who she acknowledges was a colleague of Shanker's, perhaps she should have talked to someone else that actually knew Shanker.  

Like his wife Edith.

Not too long ago, she put Joel Klein in his place when he too invoked Shanker to fortify his position (funny how both Klein and Cerf have tried...)  Here is what Edith Shanker had to say to Klein.

A few months ago, in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Joel Klein invoked Al Shanker’s name as an educator in support of today’s charter school “reform” efforts. Klein wanted the public to believe that Al was the originator of the charter school concept (he wasn’t) and that he would today be supportive of the charter school ”reform” ideology now being spread around New York City and the country as a panacea for low student achievement. Conveniently, Klein did not indicate that Al denounced the idea of charters when it became clear that the concept had changed and was being hijacked by corporate and business interests. In Al’s view, such hijacking would result in the privatization of public education and, ultimately, its destruction – all without improving student outcomes. (emphasis mine)
So, Ms. Waters, I have a few questions for you.  Does Edith Shanker sound angry to you too?  Because neither Dr. Ravitch nor Mrs. Shanker sound angry to me.  

And unlike you, they sound informed.

It is also interesting that in your piece you reveal that you actually have a great deal of respect for Albert Shanker.  If that is true, I suggest you head the words Mrs. Shanker had for Mr. Klein which are just as apt for you.
As an educator, children’s advocate and union leader, saving public education for the sake of future generations and our democracy was the mission that tied Al Shanker’s roles and ideas together.  Joel Klein should not try to take that away from him, especially when he is not here to speak for himself.  (emphasis mine)
Perhaps you should take a cue here from Shanker's widow and refrain from invoking his name to justify Cerf's words and deeds.  I am sure Edith Shanker is no less offended that you and Cerf are using her late husband's name to justify how Cerf tramples the wishes of communities in this state to give his crony's charter schools and open our state's coffers to discredited for-profit companies.  

Please, if you read Jersey Jazzman and my blog, and agree with our criticisms of Ms. Waters piece for NewsWorks, please consider contacting them to let them know they should reconsider giving her poorly researched opinions space on their website.  


  1. Darcie and Jersey Jazzman,

    I do not live in NJ but a nearby state. I read your posts every day and I want to thank you for all your research and writing. You are helping parents, teachers and students throughout our country. I want you to know you give me hope that things might get better. You also help me to focus on my students and not get discouraged. I want to thank you for all you do.

  2. Not getting discouraged in this environment is no small feat. Thank you for staying in the classroom. This is one of my biggest fears - that teachers across the country are losing hope that things will get better and will leave the profession. I believe they WILL get better - I believe Dr. Ravitch when she says that if we all push back hard enough things will change.

    Your comment really made my day, thank you for reaching out!

  3. I love when I stumble on new, powerful blogs. Thank you for standing up for public education and professioanl educators. Are you familiar with another parent advocate blog started by parents in Seattle?

    Here's the link:

  4. Darcie,
    Due to my comment on Ms Waters' article, someone from WHYY contacted me for an essay. They stated they'd read my blog, and since I had linked to this post, I can only assume they wanted an essay from YOU. Please let me know how I can contact you to forward this email, I'd love to read YOU on the WHYY site!


    1. Thank you MomTeacherAgitator!

      I think lots of people assumed we were one and the same! You can forward the message to I got a tweet from their twitter account inviting me to write for them, so maybe they ARE looking for me... They certainly need a counter point to Laura Waters!

      Thanks again,

  5. Following your suggestion, I've written the following to Newsworks, my local NPR online newspaper:

    I'm writing as a great fan of Newsworks to convey my dismay in your support of Laura Waters as a reliable voice in educational matters.

    She severely crossed the line in this piece:

    Please read the comment I submitted, as I feel it speaks for itself. I hope you will reconsider supporting her for this type of deceptive and dishonest work.

    Jennie Shanker

    Thanks for your great work Mother Crusader!