One-sided education reform “discussion”
Over the past few months, we’ve been told that education is now the subject of a great national discussion, for which we’re supposed to thank Waiting for Superman. Ironically, we’re also being told that anyone who disagrees with the position of corporate “reformers” like Bill Gates, barely-experienced district broom-wielders like Michelle Rhee, or media giants like the Chicago Tribune, are defenders of the status quo who don’t care about children. Some discussion.
Here’s a sample of what the Trib editorial board is saying: “We can’t think of anyone better (then Rhee) to lead the national charge to dramatically improve schools. In Washington, Rhee didn’t just challenge the status quo, she obliterated it.” The Trib likes Rhee’s new mission to raise $1 billion a year to wage war on the teachers unions, as if that wasn’t already a hugely-funded enterprise.
Let’s hope that the legislators who are preparing to make critical decisions about our children’s education are more open-minded.
The Trib suggests lawmakers read a report they say recommends firing the “least effective” 6 to 10 percent of teachers which would supposedly “catapult” US students into the academic stratosphere. A better, perhaps more real-world reading suggestion might be the longitudinal Chicago school improvement study by the highly respected local Consortium on Chicago School Research. “Organizing Schools for Improvement” found that the most at-risk schools only improve using a comprehensive, collaborative approach.
Lawmakers should also take a look at the National Education Policy Center’s review of the materials used to support the federal Race to the Top strategies which the Tribune constantly touts; this study shows such “research” to be flimsy at best.
Parents oppose more experimentation on our children with programs that have failed or which have no track record of improvement — and we strongly resent being told that this position means that we only care about adults. In fact, parents want to work with the good and the struggling schools we have and the new and experienced teachers who have chosen this most difficult and important career path. Schools don’t improve without this kind of adult collaboration.
The Tribune and folks like MIchelle Rhee need to replace their hostile “take no prisoners” approach with one that might actually help build up our school communities.