So where did this crazy idea of mixing education reform efforts with cocktails come from? Maybe it came from Houston, Texas when Chris Barbic and his wife, Natasha Kamrani co-starred in the My Houston 2040 Happy Hour circuit touting education reforms.
In those days, Kamrani was running for school board in Houston and had to do some fast talking to convince her constituents that she actually supported public schools. As the wife of YES Prep Charter School founder, she faced heavy criticism that she would favor charter schools over her district's schools. One Houston constituent point blank asked:
Is Kamrani really interested in making Hogg, Marshall, Burbank and Hamilton better? Will the upper middle class Heights residents send their kids to the neighborhood schools? Or is she going to vote to divert more money to places like KIPP, further starving the neighborhood schools and not making them better at all?
Years later in Nashville, when no longer answering to constituents, Kamani seems to have changed her tune.
In 2013 when Tennessee was considering a bill that would create a nine-member appeals panel to vote on charter applicants denied by local boards, MNPS Budget and Finance Committee chairman, Will Pinkston raised concerns that such a bill could have serious fiscal impacts on local school districts. “We need some sort of guardrail in place to prevent the charter appeals process from inadvertently running us off the fiscal cliff.”
Kamrani, now the state director for the Tennessee branch of Democrats for Education Reform, dismissed Pinkston's concern and calling it nothing more than a "scare tactic for political purposes." “I don’t buy it,” Kamrani said. “It sounds like folks aren’t ready to roll up their sleeves and work to solve a kid attrition issue of their own creation due to consistent low-performing schools."
But when the shoe was on the other foot and Kamrani was responsible for the fiscal well-being of her school district, she was soundly criticized in Houston for putting greed ahead of the needs of children:
Natasha Kamrani, the executive director of the Arnold Family Foundation, was a leading backer of linking teacher employment to student test scores, and an opponent of just about anything the Houston Federation of Teachers favored, while she served on the school board. It was the victory of two candidates backed by Ms. Kamrani, Laura Arnold and John Arnold that produced the policy where teachers can be fired based on student standardized test scores. After linking teacher evaluations with student test scores, the next area for reform is school lunches: charging more for them, cutting costs by eliminating “fresh fruit” and other quality ingredients, and firing or reducing the work hours of underpaid cafeteria workers.
Once a Rat, Always a Rat
It should, we blogged earlier about the ASD in Tennessee coming under fire for molded hot dog buns and rodent droppings in one of their school cafeterias in Memphis. Click the picture below to read our blog about it.