Obviously, people passionate about school reform do not neatly fall into one of two “teams,” nor does everyone on one “team” agree with every single that thing that this “team” supposedly believes in. Still, there do seem to be two camps in the conversation right now, the ed reformers and the not ed reformers. As I mentioned here, the two camps often seem to talk past one another. I would like folks on all sides of the conversation to acknowledge a few things.
To the (“so called”) “ed reformers,” please acknowledge:
1. that it is possible to want better outcomes for low income students and yet believe that using multiple choice test scores as the primary driver of school change is not the best idea.
2. that we have been using standards and multiple choice tests to try to drive school reform for over twenty years and it “hasn’t worked” using your own metrics. If you argue that we haven’t been doing it right, fine, but please acknowledge that we’ve been trying to improve schools using your ideas. In other words, for the past three decades, the country hasn’t exactly been in the grip of a Ted Sizer inspired set of reforms.
3. that the other countries around the world who have school systems you admire do not implement many of the reforms you advocate.
To the anti-ed reformers crowd (and your team needs to work on their name!), please acknowledge:
1. that some of the most progressive public schools in our country are charter schools.
2. that there are many people working in charter schools who aren’t exactly radical republicans determined to “destroy public education.”
3. that we have historically attracted lower achieving students into the teaching profession, that this is not a particularly good thing, and that Teach For America/charter schools/alternative credentialing and other such reforms have resulted in more academically talented individuals working in the public school sector.