GERM Infection

Yinzercation is on vacation. I hopped across the pond to the Society for the History of Children and Youth conference to deliver a paper on student activism in our movement  (comparing it to young people protesting the education offered to indentured children 100 years ago). But even here in England, the headlines scream about corporate-style education reform.

[Source: London Metro, 6-20-13]

[Source: London Metro, 6-20-13]

I first learned about this pandemic last year, coined the Global Education Reform Movement (or GERM) by Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg. This is one nasty virus infecting our planet. The U.S. education historian Diane Ravitch has been reporting on outbreaks from Australia and New Zealand to Scotland and Spain.

This spring, Great Britain’s Minister of Education actually invited Bain & Company from the U.S. to advise him on how to slash the education budget over here. [DianeRavitch, 3-17-13] Yes, that would be the Bain & Company owned by Mitt Romney, famous for buying up companies, sucking them dry, firing employees, and then leaving town. Of course, neither Romney nor Bain are educators. They don’t know the first thing about students, pedagogy, curriculum design, or learning science. But these are the types of people now making decisions about our schools around the globe.

Looks like the U.K. listened to their advice. The front page of yesterday’s Metro, the London daily pictured above, could have could have been pulled from any paper in the U.S.: teachers are the problem. They need to work longer hours and more days for less money and they have too much job security and too many cushy vacations.

This line of thinking is so popular, we’ve just learned that corporate-style reformers in Pennsylvania have paid for a new poll to put pressure on Gov. Corbett to keep bashing teachers. Leaked to the press on Wednesday, the poll recommends that Corbett exploit the doomsday scenario playing out in Philadelphia right now to attack teachers for political gain. [Philadelphia City Paper, 6-19-13] Here’s a thought: how about actually helping students and our schools instead to get ahead with voters?

Yesterday, PennCAN admitted that it paid for the poll. [The Notebook, 6-19-13] (Please re-visit “Can or Con” for more on the arrival of this group in Pennsylvania.) Just last week PennCAN was in Pittsburgh hiring a new public affairs manager. The organization’s executive director told the Pittsburgh Business Times that our region is playing a bigger role in state politics and that “political power has shifted west,” so they feel it’s important to have a staff member near the three rivers. [Pittsburgh Business Times, 6-12-13] Yes, re-read that sentence. PennCAN is moving to Yinzer Nation because of politics and power. They talk about our kids, but as they’ve made clear with the “recommendations” from their new poll, they really want to bash our teachers. And you better believe they have seen the growth of our grassroots movement.

There’s much more to say about these latest corporate-style reform efforts now moving over the Alleghenies like a GERM. But I’m on vacation and it will have to wait. I will be blogging less frequently in the coming weeks, but will continue to Tweet and post updates to our Facebook page: please be sure to follow Yinzercation there to stay in touch.

And please consider going to Harrisburg on June 25th with our new coalition, Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh. [See “Taking it to Harrisburg”] Working together for public education is the most effective vaccine we have for this virus.

4 thoughts on “GERM Infection

  1. Thank you for weighing in from Great Britain! I see the connections you are making and I see the devastation in Philly and that’s why I’m going to Harrisburg next Tuesday. At least 9 others from Yinzercation are going too. We’re hoping to be proudly carrying our first ever Yinzercation banner as well! Call the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) TODAY at 412.431.5900 for your spot on the bus. If you cannot ride to Harrisburg, can you help paint the Yinzercation banner this weekend? I’m hosting two sessions at my house on Sunday from 10 to 12 and 6 to 8. Email me at for my address (I live near the CMU campus) and more details!

  2. Kathy M. Newman here. Are you as afraid of these GERMS as I am? Join me and at least 9 other Yinzernation faithful in Harrisburg this coming Tuesday, June 25th. Call the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) TODAY to get your spot on the bus: 412-431-5900. Can’t make the trip? Come to my house this Sunday in one of two shifts to paint our FIRST EVER Yinzercation banner! Shift one is Sunday, June 23rd from 10-12 and Shift 2 is the same day from 6-8 pm. Email me at to get my exact address (I live within walking distance of CMU on Beeler St :-). Can’t ride the bus, and can’t come to paint? CALL OUR LEGISLATORS TODAY and tell them to put $270 million back into the budget for education, and $120 back into Philly schools! Toolkit HERE:

  3. Pingback: GERM Infection | Yinzercation ← NPE News Briefs

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