We told you all about the Demon Barber of Downing Street, the mastermind behind all the nasty Labour Party education reforms in England. Just before Tony Blair bid adieu as Prime Minister, Sir Michael went worldwide with his ideas for education reform. He took a consultant position with McKinsey Global Practices and landed a new gig in Ohio. Bill Gates paid McKinsey & company BIG money for a WORLD class Ohio education system.
Only things didn’t go so well for Sir Michael in the Buckeye state. Reforming education in Ohio “…would require an unlikely alignment of galaxies: The Ohio State Board of Education, the state’s new Democratic governor and its Republican-dominated Legislature would all have to cooperate closely. And that’s not to mention Ohio’s 613 school districts. So, it’s a real challenge to align all these actors behind that reform,” he complained.
Blame America, of course!
“One worry I have is the sheer difficulty of getting things done in this country.” Specifically he complains about America’s Constitution, which provides for separation of powers and local control over education.
His very British education on American History might explain his skewed way of thinking about the history of America’s public education. In 2008, Sir Michael gave the keynote address at a Washington, D.C. national education summit sponsored by the Aspen Institute. His address, full of references to the 1960’s and civil rights, applauds Dr. King and other civil rights leaders. And as an homage to Dr. King’s 1963 “I have a Dream” speech, he even titles his speech, “Neither Rest Nor the Tranquility: Education and the American Dream in the 21st Century.”
But underneath the platitudes is a darkness that is just plain ugly.
Sir Michael Barber seemingly blames the fall of American education on Brown v. The Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision to integrate public schools. These are his exact words:
“In 1955, the year General Motors achieved a US market share of 50 percent and two years before the launch of Sputnik undermined America’s post-war confidence, the American high school reached its zenith--at least for white kids. A year earlier the Supreme Court had momentously decided that the education those white kids received should ultimately be available to all, setting the terms of debate for the ensuing decades. Up to that time--and indeed beyond--the US had a huge comparative advantage over all other countries in the provision of universal, general education...”
But when it comes time to point the finger at the causes for the decline, Barber clearly points it at the kids. “The slippage is not the result of a lack of investment which remains relatively high in the US. Rather it reflects--to use hard economic terms--a lack of productivity.”
In other words... kids in integrated schools.
So, now we know who we are dealing with…
Follow Momma Bear’s next blog and we will tell you about Sir Michael’s involvement in Race to the Top and how he kicked off Common Core in Tennessee.
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