Support schools’ front line troops

soldiers in a foxhole

I don’t usually go in for military metaphors, but I was really struck by the important point made by ret. Major Will Clark in a letter in this morning’s Tribune:

Do military leaders blame their troops when a battle is lost? As a
retired military officer, I know a military leader would never do that.
This responsibility code does not exist for our politicians and senior
education leaders.

A battle will always be lost if not focused on
a clear objective. As a Vietnam veteran, I believe we lost that war
because political leaders did not assign a clear and reachable
objective. We were just fighting communism in the jungles. Similarly
our politicians and education policy-makers are causing us to lose the
war to improve education because they refuse to target a clear
objective. Even worse they blame front-line teachers for that loss.

In fact, a large segment of the US public didn’t respect the soldiers who fought in Vietnam and we all suffered from that mistake, one which we as a nation have clearly decided we will not make again.

But if we continue to attack our schools’ front line troops in a war whose objectives, as defined by our leaders, President Obama and Arne Duncan, as “winning” higher test scores and more choice and privatization, we will, as Maj. Clark says, “be fighting in the education jungle” for years to come.


For more thoughtful commentary, check out this great letter by CORE’s Jackson Potter in yesterday’s  online Tribune edition. Jackson challenges the Tribune’s support for charter schools, citing the research evidence that they do not improve education. Yep, that’s what I just told them about vouchers yesterday.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.