Mayor Heads To Seattle

Mayor John DeStefano is sending home dispatches from his trip to Seattle to attend a school reform conference. Following is his first dispatch, sent Wednesday:

I am off to Seattle at the invitation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to participate in a convention on mayors in education. Gates is flying about a dozen mayors out to its Seattle headquarters to promote a principal interest of theirs and mine: public school education.

New Haven will probably be the smallest city participating, which is the case in school reform gatherings typically. Few smaller cities have undertaken the kinds of reforms we are instituting here in New Haven. The fact that a group of mayors is going to Gates is in itself interesting. As Diane Ravitch recently pointed out in her “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” much of America’s public education policy today is being driven by foundations and private donor dollars.

So then why go? First, for exactly that reason. A lot of the resources, ideas and energy for remaking public education are coming from unlikely places and the Gates Foundation is one of the biggest of them. We need to know them and they need to know us.

And second, there is nothing more central to the future of New Haven than our School Change Initiative. Strengthening each school into a high-functioning organization, closing the achievement gap to the state average, cutting the drop-out rate in half and ensuring that every high school graduate has the ability and resources to graduate from college will grow wealth, cut violence and dramatically increase the competitiveness of our community.

Sure, there are lots of other things that we need to do in a host of areas, in policing, in jobs and economic development, in our neighborhoods and our downtown. However nothing is more critical to the future of America and New Haven than the success of school change.

America is about a promise. A promise that if you work hard and do the right things that your kids will do better than you did. That’s called the American Dream. And that dream is dependent upon high functioning public school districts. New Haven is not there yet, but we are on the road to it better than most. And my guess is that a little detour to Seattle will help us further down the road.

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posted by: walt on February 1, 2012  7:26pm

Did you fly out of Tweed?

posted by: Ora on February 1, 2012  7:39pm

Well mayor glad you were invited. So maybe you will be offered some sort of job regarding school reform. If that doesn’t work perhaps something pertaining to immigration. I am hoping one of those will come to fruition for you,me and the City of New Haven.

posted by: Observor1 on February 1, 2012  9:25pm

What convenient timing.Running away from yet another mess he has created.

posted by: cedarhillresident on February 1, 2012  9:47pm

ya because after 2 decades in office this might be the year school reform will really happen??

what what… JD’s input in seattle…build giant school that cost over a billion.. it’s all about the building of temples **cough cough** I mean schools. Ya that’s the ticket! ya here what I’m saying I am da king of New Haven, I have da buildings to prove it.

Sorry john could not resist.

ora hear ya on that!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 1, 2012  10:51pm

The difference between a politician and a pickpocket is that a pickpocket doesn’t always get indignant when you tell him to keep his hands to himself.” 
“Politicians never accuse you of ‘greed’ for wanting other people’s money—only for wanting to keep your own money.”

He will be right at home with Bill Gates.Check this out.

December 04, 2011
Gates Foundation Grants ALEC A Hefty Sum For ‘Education Reform’
By karoli

posted by: billyjoe on February 1, 2012  11:14pm

Lets look at this statement…..

“Strengthening each school into a high-functioning organization,
- Stop with allowing all the childish antics and posturing from your cronies that have bogged down the schools and kept jobs from people that might actually do some educational work.

closing the achievement gap to the state average
- Stop allowing the pre-k programs to be over loaded with out of town kids just so the city gets it money and then doesnt care of they stay or go a month after school starts.

cutting the drop-out rate in half
- Half is acceptable? I would hope you could strive for 0%

and ensuring that every high school graduate has the ability and resources to graduate from college will grow wealth
- Insert your ever touted promise comment here!

cut violence
- have some competent people running the force and officers that will get out of the car once and a while.

and dramatically increase the competitiveness of our community.
- In what field? all the long term jobs have been run or taxed out of new haven.

posted by: Brutus2011 on February 2, 2012  1:08am

Mayor DeStefano:

NHPS is utterly politicized.

NHPS is dysfunctional precisely because you have chosen this path.

NHPS needs not an introduction to the privateers.

NHPS needs an introduction to the 1780s, Jefferson, and public education funding.

NHPS needs a return to public virtue by you and your managers.

Cronyism, political patronage, and propaganda campaigns against teachers must end.

If legacy is your goal, then your current path will not succeed, nor will New Haven’s future.

Can you not see this?

posted by: Pat C on February 2, 2012  9:27am

I wonder if he is flying coach or first class?

posted by: The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee on February 2, 2012  9:46am

Diana Ravich’s comments about foundations and PRIVATE donors intrusion in our PUBLIC schools was meant as another just a critique, but as a legitimate criticism. And a valid one it is. 

How does having incredible wealth inherently qualify these billionaires to transform our public institutions in their own images and instantaneously call upon the attention of our public officials?

And has anyone stopped to ask the question, why the super rich are suddenly interested in the educational processes that effect our most vulnerable citizen, e.g. Charter schools primarily located in urban school districts, but are unwilling to go beyond the most simplistic of pedagogy to “educate” them, i.e. teaching to bubble test, but offering little in the way of creative thought and critical analysis?  Maybe, as one writer points out, these hedge-fund capitalist, financiers, super wealthy computer moguls have discovered that if they keep the next generation just literate and numerate enough, they can make of them the unthinking work-force that can perform the functions necessary to keep the unregulated financial system working, from which rich got richer and wrecked the economy, but these barely educated serfs will never be able to question the assumptions of the market, that will eventually wreck their lives, throw them out of their homes and send their already low-paying jobs overseas.

It’s a shame that our elected officials are not looking deeper into the motives and methods of these foundations and their intended results.

posted by: Noteworthy on February 2, 2012  10:48am

I wonder how DeStefano does it.

How does one go on the party circuit with shakers and makers touting all this success when the story at home is 180 degrees out of phase with what you are telling people? Do the sponsors just not read? Or do they just read the press releases?

This time DeStefano is hanging out with the glitterati of corporate and foundation wealth pontificating and puffing about New Haven school reform that can best be described as in its unproven, untested infancy. DeStefano only found the Reform God two years ago and then only after the feds starting waving billions of dollars in front of his face did the word “Reform” go from a sneer to a harlot’s wet kiss of opportunity.

The same is true on immigration and the Elm City ID card. To date, there are only about 10,000 real cards which have limited use. There is zero evidence its accomplished anything or that those who are here illegally, were helped make a financial transaction they were not already allowed to do prior to the id card.

And yet, DeStefano was tippy toeing through the tulips last year hanging out and talking about what a great program this is based on nothing more than his own hubris.


posted by: Teachergal on February 2, 2012  1:12pm

DeStefano The fact that a group of mayors is going to Gates is in itself interesting. As Diane Ravitch recently pointed out in her “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” much of America’s public education policy today is being driven by foundations and private donor dollars.

Are we to believe that DeStefano read Ravitch’s book which BTW is a great read? And the quote about how public education is being driven by private donors and foundations, while true, is a view she feels strongly against. Ravitch is a strong supporter of public education NOT charter schools. The thought of DeStefano representing New Haven reform movement sickens me. This reform movement has potential but I question the individuals who are implementing it.

posted by: Tom Burns on February 3, 2012  2:21am

Rev Samuel T Ross—who are you? You are spot on always——we could use your voice at the Capitol, when we go——if you feel like it—please get in touch, for your voice and message can make a difference—-Tom