Dr. Steve Perry has difficulty learning the difference between attacking policy and attacking people. Perhaps he shouldn't be education reform's face of success?
September 6, 2013

This happened on Twitter last night. It was part of a regularly scheduled online Twitter chat about what real education reform looks like.

Dr. Steve Perry is the head of one magnet (though some might call it a charter) school in Connecticut. He also sells himself as a CNN and MSNBC contributor on education reform matters, and prides himself in his "toughlove" approach to running his school. He has also proclaimed himself "America's most trusted educator."

Does Roger Ailes write his press releases?

Perry's magnet school has been touted as a rousing example of what can be done with inner city students when they're in the "right kind of school." Evidently the right kind of school includes cherry-picking students and humiliating 5-year olds when their parents forget to make sure they've got their belt on in the morning. (See the comment at the end of that article for the whole story.)

Also, he really, really loathes teachers' unions. Why am I not surprised?

As Connecticut blogger Jonathan Pelto noted earlier this year, Perry has done a great job of making sure his students get to college, mostly by making sure his school has kids that have a chance of getting there:

His biography describes his approach as one in which, “every single detail matters. T’s are always crossed, I’s are always dotted. Shirts are always buttoned and tucked in.

As the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School he brags that his “daily routine of tough love and high expectations” always succeeds.

And to prove it, Steve Perry says, “If you don’t want to go to college, don’t go to Capital Prep. Go somewhere else.”

Of course, what he doesn’t reveal is that while nearly 1 in 4 students Hartford public school students aren’t fluent in English, more than 97.5% of Capital Preparatory Magnet School’s student body is fluent in English.

Meanwhile, about 13 percent of Hartford’s students need special education services, but Capital Prep’s number is a fraction of that.

And the list goes on. For example, Perry boasts that “every graduating member of its senior class” goes on to a four-year college, never explaining that you can’t graduate from his school if you don’t get into a four-year college.

So here's one of those 'free enterprise' dudes who enjoys the support of groups like K-12, Inc and more, while all the while making the big talk about what a favor he's doing underprivileged communities with his hard-edged tough talk.

It seems he has difficulty limiting that tough talk to children. Those tweets at the top of the post go far beyond civilized discourse between people who disagree. Calling teachers 'roaches who feed on our community' is just a bit over the top, don't you think? He didn't see anything wrong with that, either. No apologies from the guy with all the answers, just a smackdown of AFT President Randi Weingarten, who has probably done more for underprivileged kids in her tenure with the AFT than Perry could even imagine doing.

I'm still trying to figure out what "racist policies" he's accusing Weingarten of supporting. Is it racist to expect teachers to be treated like professionals? Is it racist to expect assessments of teachers and students alike to be fair ones instead of made-up benchmarks based on tests that don't even pass the smell test, much less more? Is it racist to work to make public schools an integral and safe part of communities so the entire community benefits along with the children they serve? Is it racist to fight for art and music teachers, for supplies for every child?

These are racist policies, Steve Perry?

If I were MSNBC, I'd be thinking hard about whether or not this is a guy they want speaking for education reform on their network. It seems to me he's far better suited for Fox News.

(Note: Despite one post claiming Perry has lost his gig as a contributor at CNN, he still boasts that he's an active contributor in his bio and on his website)

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