Why We All Need to Put Quotation Marks Around Education “Reform”

Are you listening, Malcom Gladwell? I think we’re at a tipping point in education “reform.” This weekend Gail Collins wrote about the obscene amount of money the 1% are making from education. Gail Collins does not suffer fools gladly, people. Recall the number of times she called our attention to the fateful trip Mitt Romney’s family took to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of his car? It’s now entered our collective conscious with its very own website. If Gail Collins can do that about a dog, imagine what she can do for education.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director of Media and Democracy, keeps adding notches to her virtual belt as she ticks off the corporations who have resigned from ALEC. Fourteen and counting. She named names until the rest of the media could no longer snooze.

Leonie Hamison, Director of Class Size Matters, and a charter member of Parents Across America, fuels us with the underhanded moves of the elite in cities and states around the country. I swear she never sleeps. Her tweets and blogs and emails come to me just about every hour of the day. Leonie never lets us forget that power corrupts and absolute power tends to….am I right?

You’ve got to scrunch up your forehead and move your lips into the disbelieving position (I know you know how to do it) whether you read about “reform” in print, see it online, or hear about it over the fence. But the skies are beginning to lighten. Whether you live in New Orleans or Baltimore or Buffalo you must have noticed that the backlash has begun. It will take a continued commitment on your part and mine to keep connecting the dots. The monied class wants to take as much money from education as quickly as it can. They want to do to education’s 600 billion dollar pot what they’ve done to health care: privatize it for their own purposes. At the other end, the well-intended want to make education over into their own image: upwardly mobile businessmen and women. They base their educational fads on little research and less input from educators and parents. Few of them graduated from public schools.  How many of them had to sit through endless hours of test prep? Where do their kids go to school? Time we find out.

The lot of them refuse to acknowledge the real problem is poverty.

When you compare our middle class, well-fed, students with the same cohort from any other country in the whole wide world, we do as well or better on any standardized tests you can throw at them. Lump the impoverished kids into the mix and the conservative’s meme that our schools are failing screams out from behind the curtains. Painfully, we have more kids at or below poverty than any other industrialized country.

But I say to hold on, folks. We’re on our way to some truth. That is, if we can halt this train wreck before we wipe out an entire generation of students with us. Where is our collective political will? Where is yours?

 

About Nancy Letts

Nancy Letts consults with school districts, professional organizations and public sector agencies.Her teaching appointments have included public schools in Pennsylvania and New York, and at Pace University and the City University of New York. She and her work have been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Teaching K-8 Magazine, Thinking: the Journal of Philosophy for Children, and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” She has been a contributor to the Teachers College Record, The Quarterly at UC Berkeley, and Teaching magazine. Audio tapes include”Building Learning Organizations,” and “Getting Started With Portfolios,” from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Her book "Creating the Caring Classroom" is published by Scholastic Professional Books.

Subscribe

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.