This week found America’s “most wanted educator” venturing to perhaps the reformiest place in America: Minneapolis. There, Dr. Steve Perry delighted the reformer-heavy crowd with his unique brand of high-octane, high-expectations roof raising, including referring to teacher unions as “roaches” and regaling the audience with tales of children who are literally dying from excuses. In this special guest post, an embittered veteran teacher (is there any other kind???) weighs in on what she and her low-achieving colleagues learned from Dr. Perry’s visit—or what they would have learned had they not been too lazy to attend. *
Imagine our delight when an email from Minneapolis Public School alerted us that the famed education motivational speaker, Dr. Steve Perry, was not only coming to Minneapolis to speak, but that we had a chance to win a free ticket! Was it possible that we would get to see the man whose “heart pumps passion and produces positive change” in the flesh??? Our expectations were high—then came the excellent news. Thanks to the generosity of The Minneapolis Foundation, we were in!
We are pleased to be able to accommodate your request for a free ticket to “The Leadership Factor with Dr. Steve Perry,” the first in a series of Minnesota Meetings, on Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. We are grateful to The Minneapolis Foundation for coordinating this free ticket opportunity as part of the RESET Education campaign. Thank you for your interest!
There was just one problem. The Minneapolis Foundation and team RESET clearly forgot we’re union teachers—with tenure— and hence, lazy, unmotivated, deficient in excellence and “part of the problem.” Also, we learned that wine boxes were not allowed in the auditorium, which caused our motivation to plummet. So we stayed home and followed the play-by-play on Twitter…Alas the scene was a familiar one as we know our local achievement gap score settlers all too well. Shall we introduce them now?
- Beth Hawkins, a “reporter” for MinnPost, published by Joel Kramer, who is the father of…
- Eli Kramer, Executive director of Hiawatha Academies. Eli’s charter school coincidentally receives lots of good press from his father’s paper. Eli is also a TFA alumni and his brother, Matt Kramer, is the new co-CEO of TFA. It’s a bit confusing, but if you’re a regular EduShyster reader, you already know that education rephorm phever is hereditary in Minneapolis
- Eric Mahmoud, excellently compensated charter school entrepreneur who also has a lucrative side gig.
- Dr. Steve Perry, who requires no further introduction.
Wine boxes at the ready, we watched #resetedu unfold on Twitter. The night began with a flurry of reformy platitudes keen observations about low expectations and “belief gaps” causing the achievement gap, that zip codes shouldn’t impact the education of our kids, who are literally being killed with excuses. We were sad not to hear Dr. Steve Perry referring to union teachers as roaches for ourselves, but we at least got to read about it later. The Minneapolis Foundation, one of the main funders of RESET Education, tweeted this during the event:
@mplsfoundation22 Apr@DrStevePerry on effective teaching & data: “I know you think you can teach, but let’s look @ your data.” #realtalk #ResetEdu
Too bad the Minneapolis Foundation didn’t look at Perry’s data—or at allegations from parents that Perry routinely counsels out challenging students and oversees a hyperdisciplinary culture where humiliation is routine. Not only is Perry an inflammatory speaker, but like so many education reformers, he misrepresents data about his school and its wild success. In other words, armed with sound bites and street cred, he is a perfect emissary to carry forward the disingenuous reform agenda of RESET Education.(For more on RESET Education, including its reliance on misleading statistics, propaganda and flawed pedagogy, read Teach for America alum Gary Rubinstein’s analysis).
Besides the Minneapolis Foundation and Minneapolis Public Schools, RESET Education is comprised of an alphabet-soup of education reformers, including Achieve Minneapolis, Teach for America and MinnCAN, all of whom happen to be using an urgent, crisis, “social justice” message to push for publicly-funded, yet privately managed charter schools. RESET’s corporate sponsors include General Mills, Medtronic, and Cargill, while media partners include Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost. When audio becomes available a link will be posted and you can listen along and play the edreform drinking game and take a drink from your wine box whenever teachers and their unions are criticized. You will also have time to RESET your thinking about continuing to contribute to Minnesota Public Radio.
Thank you RESET Education for helping to bring us closer to privatizing public education in Minnesota. Who knew if could be so easy?
Note: after the event, our local teachers union published a letter stating, “Dr. Steve Perry, a magnet school principal from Connecticut, and noted anti-union activist, spent the evening abrasively trashing teachers and our unions. He went as far as to say “we need to call out the roaches” when referring to teachers unions. Dr. Perry went on to blame teachers for the literal death of children. It was truly beyond the bounds of acceptable dialogue.” In response, Minneapolis Public School Superintendent, Bernadeia H. Johnson, urged Minnesotans not to dismiss Dr. Perry’s “overall message of acting urgently to save a generation of young people because of the sharp rhetoric he used during his speech and the subsequent panel discussion.” Read the entire exchange here.
*EduShyster is not responsible for any spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors contained above. If you actually attended the event and would like to share your thoughts or “sprinkle some Tabasco” write to firstname.lastname@example.org.