As a teacher and a community member, I’ve seen the wonderful things that can happen when a district has a good relationship with its local PTA. I’m certainly not alone in my respect and admiration for parents who dedicate their time and efforts to helping to make our schools and communities the best they can be, and the PTA parents with whom I’ve worked closely over the course of my teaching career are some of the best people I know.
It seems, though, that there’s a growing disconnect between local PTAs and the national group to which they belong (the National PTA has accepted millions from the Gates Foundation, and a hefty portion of that sum was earmarked specifically to promote the Common Core), and that disconnect–or, more accurately, the National PTA philosophy that created it–is glaringly obvious in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Our Children magazine:
In this issue of Our Children, celebrated Principal Steve Perry talks about the important role PTAs and parents play in closing the achievement gap.
Perry stresses the importance of parent engagement for minority children who may go to less-than-stellar schools.
While few people would argue that an achievement gap (which is more accurately described as an opportunity gap) exists and needs to be addressed, Perry’s controversial philosophies about the subject should raise a red flag for PTA members all over the country. The Our Children story does provide a bit of background information on Perry’s upbringing and its influence on his career, but the information its editors neglect is much more telling than what’s written in the text of the article.
Where to start?
Well, Steve Perry’s “success” is so controversial that my good friend Jersey Jazzman devoted an entire series to “America’s [self-proclaimed] Most Trusted Educator”:
Jazzman concludes, with research to support his findings, that Perry’s Capital Prep serves far fewer students with disabilities or who live in extreme poverty than other Hartford schools–and that Capital Prep has extremely high student attrition rates and mostly inexperienced teachers because of frequent turnover. Yet despite Perry’s quest to only educate certain children (particularly those who submit to his “no excuses” policies and produce favorable test scores), his school still cannot boast superior academic outcomes. Ultimately:
Dr. Steve Perry’s own record as an educator is hardly superior; there is no reason that anyone should listen to his ranting and ravings against teachers and their unions on the basis of his own accomplishments (or lack thereof).
Equally important and frighteningly telling are all these posts by Connecticut blogger Jon Pelto, who keeps a close eye on Dr. Perry (and about that “Dr.” title–Mercedes Schneider looks at Perry’s “slight on scholarship” dissertation here)–and who has exposed evidence of Perry corruption, plagiarism, and alliances with anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-public school associations.
Oh, and there are also those pesky allegations that Capital Prep students who commit even minor disciplinary infractions are made to sit at the “Table of Shame” or eat lunch/endure an entire academic class period standing up.
See EduShyster’s coverage–make sure you click on all the embedded links–of Dr. Perry’s antics at a speaking engagement in Minneapolis, wherein he referred to teachers’ union bosses as “roaches” and blamed teachers for the “literal death of children.”
See this post from Ebony Murphy-Root, a former teacher at Perry’s Capital Prep–and read it with Steve Perry’s assertion that “there are too few talented teachers available” in the back of your mind.
See here for another teacher’s description of Perry’s “bullying and intimidation” techniques, which contribute to Capital Prep’s “hostile work environment.”
See here for tweets in which Steve Perry essentially called Randi Weingarten and Diane Ravitch racists–and for more stats on Capital Prep.
Or, if you really want to be entertained, just browse the rest of Dr. Perry’s Twitter page.
Is Dr. Steve Perry really the type of “educator” the national PTA wants to promote? Is his “no excuses” philosophy what the majority of America’s parents want for their children? Is his practice of excluding the neediest or lowest-performing students from his school consistent with the National PTA’s “Every Child” philosophy?
And perhaps most importantly: are local PTA members aware that Dr. Steve Perry is being promoted and celebrated by their parent group?