RCSD Consultant Rachel Curtis And The Broad Superintendents Academy
For those who are not familiar with the 1996 blockbuster apocalyptic film Independence Day, it starred Will Smith and Hornell native Bill Pullman, with the two of them helping to ultimately conquer the invading aliens who were intent on exterminating mankind and fleecing Earth of whatever resources would prove beneficial to their overarching goal of universal domination. To facilitate their sinister strategy of wiping us all out, the aliens, from their mother ship, dispersed a legion of smaller spacecraft that effectively obliterated just about every city around the world. If it wasn't for the heroics of the always-colorful Randy Quaid, I would not be typing up this particular story today - fictionally speaking, of course.
But the proliferation of human beings who are recruited by, matriculated with and advanced from the Broad Superintendents Academy, is quite real, with yet another alumnus now impacting the Rochester area education scene. First, a quick refresher about the academy, which was founded by Eli Broad, who amassed considerable wealth through his involvement with developing and expanding Southern California real estate, and forming a smaller financial services firm - Sunamerica -that eventually attached itself with a much larger corporation - American International Group, or AIG. One of Broad's long-standing passions has been to transform our public school sysem into one that more resembles private enterprise, by minimizing the efficacy of employee unions, and infusing more competiion into the public system with the advent and multiplication of publicly-funded charter schools. It has been documented by me that RCSD Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard and Deputy Superintendent of Administration John Scanlan are Broad graduates, both graduating in 2007. Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski was an occasional guest speaker and faculty member at the academy up until 2007.
Neither of our larger local newspapers - Democrat & Chronicle and City Newspaper - have failed to mention that Rachel Curtis, the Boston-based education consultant who authored a report commissioned by Brizard and his administration, is also affiliated with the Broad Superintendents Academy. Curtis is listed, on the academy's website, as an individual who has guest spoken at the academy, much like Urbanski. It is not known at this time the frequency of her visits to the academy, or how close of a professional association Curtis has with Brizard, Scanlan, and even Urbanski - aside from the fact that they are all listed on this particular website. A number of email attempts and phone messages left with Brizard's office have thus far been unreturned. As for Curtis, she is a difficult person to reach. I have tried to reach her using three different email addresses, only to have each one returned as undeliverable, or declared an unknown address. Furthermore, a phone message was left with the main - only - number listed on the website for Ready About Consulting, which is an education-related consulting firm located in the Boston area and where her name is still prominently displayed on the site.
Nevertheless, it is her 16-page analysis, which is rife with condemnations and subsequent reform suggestions, that has delivered a stinging indictment of the RCSD adminstration and its beleaguered Human Capital Initiatives (human resources) department, and essentially a sucker punch to district teachers, their union(s), and building principals. Curtis, who has extensively researched and written about performance-based teacher pay, lets her flag fly, so to speak, in this specific study. She repeatedly and sharply criticizes the supposed lack of a clear and uniform curricular and career infrastructure at all district levels, with the resultant, in her estimation, lack of 'teaching rigor.' In other words, instructional methods are not meeting or exceeding newly-elevated standards.
The spin emanating from district office was swift and deflective, strongly suggesting that these problems were years in the making and that they have all been earnestly addressed, with a number of different procedures applied to remedy such problems. Not surprisingly, the ever-reliable Democrat & Chronicle, in its Op-Ed page on Monday, March 14, 2011, issued a typically incomplete and one-sided proposal to fix everything, The opinion piece put the onus for change on Urbanski, singling out the Career In Teaching program that he, in fact, created and its intimated waning and deleterious impact on RCSD teachers and students.
There were no newspapers or businesses enabling the attacking aliens in Independence Day, which makes the actions of the Broad Institute (Superintendents Academy) and other similar organizations so insidious. You don't actually see the giant space ships hovering so ominously over our urban centers. But they are there, looking to bleed us of our intellectual and personal sovereignty.