Troubling calls for “evidence”: Punitive accountability, disruptive innovation and neoliberal blues in the education deform project
Dr. Michelle Fine
I am interested in tracing how “metric madness” has metastasized k – 12 classrooms, with test scores used as a metric trifecta to brand young people with stamps of lack, undermine teachers’ professional sensibilities and securities, and close schools in urban communities, soon flipped to charters and then high end real estate. I will link the grotesque urban invasion with the more genteel ideological take over in suburban districts in which the narrative of failure grows sticky, attaching to bodies of color as foreplay to privatization, threatening unions and the very democratic project of public education as technologies of white privilege are sutured into the fabric of public schools.
Drawing on two “cases” of corporate take over, disruptive innovation and massive community push back: in Newark NJ through the proliferation of charters and the enactment of “disruptive innovation,” and in Montclair NJ with a most recent attack on a multi-racial coalition of progressives in a small, integrated suburb. In both communities — one primarily low income students of color and the other a national model for desegregation – I will trace the rise of disruption innovation, the infusion of corporate ideologies, technologies and budgetary redistributions, as well as analyze the massive mobilization of parents and educators, trade unionists and civil rights leaders, in both communities, building fragile bonds to coagulate a radical coalition for democratic accountability rooted in radical solidarities.
As a party favor for all who attend and work in public universities: I will offer the story of how my emails to progressive activists, for 18 months, have been FOIAed (freedom of information act) to reveal the capillaries of resistance — this is a cautionary tale about our fantasies of academic freedom, and how we need to navigate treacherous power lines animated by money, greed and the corporate drive to win, silence and obliterate all who stand in their way.
I will link the circuits of dispossession, privatization and resistance across urban and suburban k-12 schools, as well as higher education institutions, as a call for solidarities for a democratic project of critical teaching and learning.