Anthony Cody Reviews A Chronicle of Echoes
Anthony Cody spent 24 years working in Oakland schools, 18 of them as a science teacher at a high-needs middle school. A National Board- certified teacher, he now leads workshops with teachers on Project Based Learning. He is the co-founder of the Network for Public Education. With education at a crossroads, he invites you to join him in a dialogue on education reform and teaching for change and deep learning.
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Book Review: Mercedes Schneider’s “A Chronicle of Echoes” Offers Tools for Defense Against Corporate Reform
Fans of Harry Potter will recall the most valuable class at Hogwarts: “Defense Against the Dark Arts.” With her new book, “A Chronicle of Echoes,” Mercedes Schneider has provided those of us working to defend public education with a work that could be called “Defense Against Corporate Reform.”
A short year and a half ago a new blogger appeared, writing from Louisiana, with a flair for following the threads of corporate reform back to their sources. Mercedes Schneider’s Deutsch29 blog brought us research of everything from the state of New Orleans schools, to the funding of the Common Core standards, has uncovered information not often disclosed voluntarily.
Communities across the country are experiencing similar manifestations of well-funded “reform.” School board and legislative candidates willing to close public schools and expand charters, willing to undermine due process for teachers and impose test-score driven evaluations, receive unprecedented donations from billionaires thousands of miles away. Teachers organized into newly-formed and well-funded “teacher voice” groups show up to testify at legislative hearings, in support of the elimination of due process. Reports issue at regular intervals from supposedly non-partisan “think tanks,” proclaiming the public schools broken, schools of education hopeless, and calling for “disruption” via market forces.
Who are these people and organizations, and where did they come from? This spring, Mercedes has released her first book, A Chronicle of Echoes, which is a sort of handbook for understanding all the players in the corporate reform “movement.” She takes them on one by one, and leaves none unscathed.
Mercedes Schneider is unusual in being both a classroom teacher and a skilled statistician with a PhD in applied statistics.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. Joel Klein is introduced as “The man from which nothing good comes.” Schneider perceives a public education system under assault by powerful, well-funded organizations and individuals. Her purpose is to equip those who wish to defend public schools with much-needed understanding of what we are up against.
Schneider does not limit her research to the main pages of the New York Times. She delves into emails, income tax forms, dissertations, web pages and more to uncover details of the characters in her story. This is not a sympathetic treatment. It is an exposé – or more accurately, a collection of them.