Saturday, August 27, 2011

The unnamed corporate ed-reform "uber-hipster" has a name, Mike McGalliard

"I'm not going to accuse you and John Holcomb of white savior syndrome per se, but I will go on record as saying that your ideas and actions, no matter how well intentioned, are the epitome of what Freire called 'the false generosity of paternalism.'" — Robert D. Skeels

LAsPromise is yet another Corporate Reform Agent funded by plutocrats and run by charlatans like Tom Vander Ark and Mike McGilliard.
Dr. Ravitch recently spoke about being in a "Twitter debate with someone," and I immediately identified having been in an ongoing one myself with an unlikely opponent — Mike McGalliard of LA's Promise (née MLA Partners). Seems he took exception to my comments on the Los Angeles Times regarding his corporately backed project and wrote a blog post saying as much. I wrote a response on Schools Matter entitled Open note to LA's Promise former CEO Mike McGalliard regarding what he terms my pithiness. We spent about a week going back and forth on Twitter. He went as far as to accuse me of being a defender of the chimerical "status quo," to which I sent him here, and me calling him out on having arch-charlatan Tom Vander Ark on his board. McGalliard, a guy who doesn't seem to mind being called an uber-hipster, was described to me by an ex-employee of a local corporate reform 501C3 as a "child of privilege."

For the most part I can't speak to peoples intentions, and perhaps the wealthy white McGalliard really has good intentions. That said, he says:

Even if Howard's narrow assessment of CST data is a fair view of school performance, and even if his dubious collection of comparable schools is a legit comparison, what's there to celebrate? Our best reforms are failing and teensy adjustments to the status quo is all we can hope for at LAUSD?

I am going to write my own assessment of the Los Angeles Times piece, which will in a round-about way defend the corporate reformers. I say that because these business types don't have a clue, and now that their own scores aren't improving like they claimed they would, they are in a quandary. The truth is that standardized testing, charter school accelerated segregation, and our plutocratic overlords telling us that the purpose of education "college preparation" or "career readiness," are all parts of the malady that McGalliard and his ilk buy into and propagate.

Once we accept the true purpose of education, as put forth by Freire, we can begin looking to real solutions to education ills. Rather than a bevy of idiotic business buzzwords that are part of the problem, including blended, distance, disruptive, and innovative, we can look for solution oriented phrases like desegregation, fighting poverty, equal resources, and liberation. I gave McGalliard the last word on Twitter. Ironically he misapplied a Freire quote in response to me telling him to read Freire. I suppose his class affiliation doesn't allow him to see what he is doing, and we all know how Freire stood on neoliberalism and corporatization.

Ultimately, we don't need education reform, we need economics reform. When we address that, everything else will fall into place.



Unknown said...

Since when was I unnamed? And why am I a corporate reformer again? And who would call a suburban middle class son of an Engineer, a child of privilege? (though, Mom and Dad, you did a great job!). Is it because all white people are people of privilege? And if that's true, does that make you a child of priveledge too?

And what's with the weird doctored photograph of me?

Oh, and by the way, did you note that LA's Promise schools had some of the highest increases in API in the district? Does this increases indicate that your so called corporate reform is succeeding or failing?

P.S. I don't exactly like or hate the word "uber-hipster." I'm just not sure what it means exactly.

Have a nice day.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Welcome Mr. McGilliard. The whole "unnamed" thing comes from the right-wing edReformer article you posted: He identified an unnamed “uber-hipster.” I was merely using their phrase, and was struck that you wouldn't have found it offensive in the first place.

Mr. McGilliard, can you honestly look at your former board of directors and funders at LA's Promise, and then ask why you would be considered a considered a corporate reformer? Is it even possible to be that obtuse?

As for the child of privilege thing. The person discussing you was referring to the fact that you were well-to-do enough to attend a private liberal arts college. That person's background gives them the perspective to say that. As a white male do I also receive a degree of privilege in a class society that uses institutional racism as a means to divide workers? Absolutely. Difference is, I am aware of it and don't ever try to deny it.

If you want, I'll change the photo. I can feature either just you, or the LA's Promise logo with the dollar signs. Your choice.

Bravo on your APIs. Now how can we apply those lessons to public schools with publicly elected boards? Moreover, all forms of corporate education reform in Los Angeles (charter-voucher, corporate partners, 501C3s, etc.) seem to post great APIs, but have milquetoast SATs and abysmal proficiency rates on university entrance exams.

Now let's look at LA's Promise Schools
West Adams Preparatory High SATs are below the LAUSD average for 2009-10
Fall 2010 West Adams Preparatory High Admits to CSU NOT proficient in English 91%
Fall 2010 West Adams Preparatory High Admits to CSU NOT proficient in Mathematics 82%

Manual Arts Senior High SATs are below the LAUSD average for 2009-10
Fall 2010 Manual Arts Senior High Admits to CSU NOT proficient in English 97%
Fall 2010 Manual Arts Senior High Admits to CSU NOT proficient in Mathematics 90%

When public education advocates see such numbers, we typically suspect that an institution has been teaching to the test (in this case the CSTs). Teaching to the test is tantamount to the Banking Model of Education — you've read Freire, so I shouldn't need to define that. More to the point, it shows that obsession with APIs (and the flawed concepts behind the right-wing legislation No Child Child Left Behind) are wrongheaded at best. Clearly, if these students were being educated as opposed to being taught to the test, we'd see better than single digit proficiency in English, no?

Again, I would defend your organization and even Green Dot against being vilified on test scores, if your organizations didn't do that to public schools. The double standard is glaring, the corporate reformers use scores to privatize schools or boost their own market share when the scores favor them, but rail against the selfsame scores when the scores don't favor them.

I'm all for reform, but authentic reform based on the Freire model, as opposed to the AEI/Cato/Hoover derived nonsense DFER peddles.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

As promised, I changed the photo.

Anonymous said...

If you fellows can stop comparing the length of whatever you have down there long enough (pun unintended, but fine), perhaps you can point some of the rest of us somewhere to help us assess the next best steps in our efforts to help kids who deserve a lot better!

Mike McGalliard said...

Alright, Mr/Ms. Anonymous. Well said. We'll end the partially self-indulgent debate.

I'm sure Mr. Skeels has resources to point to to assist teacher and schools. I do as well. I can be contacted at And my blog is located at

I'd be pleased to help in anyway i can.