Friday, August 22, 2014
Ed."Reformers" Aren't Career Ready...
Who's "driving" educational reform? If you've witnessed the current trends in education, you might wonder about the combined teaching experience of some of these self-declared "reformers." They write and reform away as if they're experts while their engine swerves in and out of lanes, putting little ones at risk.
Arne Duncan tutored for one year at his mother's tutoring center. After receiving a nifty education and making the right connections, he moved on to become an educational director, starting with the Ariel Education Initiative and culminating in the Chicago Public Schools System before assuming his role as U.S. Secretary of Education. He never worked as a classroom teacher. I'd actually trust him more on the basketball court than in the classroom.
Michelle Rhee taught as a T.F.A. member at Baltimore's Harlem Park elementary school for three years. She had co-teachers. During this time, she managed to have her students tape their mouths shut. She walked away unscathed; they walked away with bleeding lips. She barely got her feet wet with teaching before she was catapulted into the position of D.C. Chancellor and onto StudentsFirst. Now, with probably a similar level of credentials in her new "field," she is moving onto lawn care.
Campbell Brown is the new kid on the block attacking public-school teachers. She's pretty sure that tenure must go, but I doubt many of the most effective, lifetime career teachers would agree with her. To the best of my knowledge the sum of her classroom experience amounts to teaching English for one year in Czechoslovakia following her college graduation.
In N.Y.C. during the Bloomberg years, there's lots we could talk about with chancellors lacking the proper educational credentials and the need for waivers. And, then there's David Coleman, former treasurer of StudentsFirst, who tried to become a teacher, but it just didn't agree with him. So, he went on to become the "chief architect" of the Common Core standards for the rest of us.
Will the time ever return when those who are trusted to formulate educational policies are actually those who understand the pulse of a classroom because they have devoted their lives to helping the children in it? With novice "reformers" driving educational policies these days, it's best to keep your children off the road, if you can afford to do so--like so many of the reformers themselves.