Over at Gotham Schools they've been wrestling with what to call the group of education advocates who follow the Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Jon Schnur model of thought. While those three would probably declare themselves to be reformers, that's kind of a loaded word to use. After all, everyone working on education advocacy would probably describe themselves as reformers so that isn't a particularly useful appelation. Furthermore, it's loaded in the sense that reform automatically implies good. Have you ever heard of negative reform? I'm sure it's happened, but it's just not how the word is used. While what these advocates are doing may or may not be positive, giving them the label of reformer automatically implies that they are doing good, which is a disservice to our discussions on the issue.
So over at Gotham Schools they threw open the question to the readers to hear what other people had to say. The suggestions ranged from the pretty good to the pretty inane. My personal favorite (though it could never be used) is the Axis of Eval. That one's pretty loaded too, but also extremely clever, especially given the focus these people put on accountability and high stakes testing.
The one that I'm actually going to start advocating for, though, is similarly brilliant and sums up so many aspects of this particular "reform" movement. I'm voting for Idealocrats.
The blending together of idealists and bureaucrats is a pretty accurate summation of the idea. On the one hand, you have the naked idealism (perhaps best exemplified in Teach for America corps members) that the system can work, that all children can learn, and that by working to ensure all children are learning we may very well be saving the world. The flip side of that is the bureaucratic focus on data, testing, working within the system, and following a business-like model to achieve quantifiable goals. The melding together of these two seemingly different ideologies is what makes the "reforms" of people like Klein and Rhee different from what has come before.
So all hail the Idealocrats! Now they have a name.