Monday, December 8, 2008

The Need to Break Free

There are very few things that get me actually upset, but the column that David Brooks wrote last Friday did the trick. I'd just written the day before that the choice in education reform was not a stark one between the Rhee/Klein/Idealocrat reform and nothing. That's a false choice put forward by people who want their ideas to be the only ones considered. Obviously, David Brooks doesn't read this site or he wouldn't have written a lead like this:
"On the one hand, there are the reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, who support merit pay for good teachers, charter schools and tough accountability standards. On the other hand, there are the teachers’ unions and the members of the Ed School establishment, who emphasize greater funding, smaller class sizes and superficial reforms."
That's right, the choice is between charter schools and superficial reforms. Nice try David.

First of all, there's more evidence to support the idea that smaller class sizes (an apparently superficial reform) support student learning than that charter schools have a similar impact. For someone who's into tough accountability standards, you'd think that evidence would play a part in his reasoning.

Of course, Brooks probably didn't do a whole lot of research for this column. He's not an education specialist and so he went along with what the mainstream theme of education coverage tells people to think. Namely that Michelle Rhee stands for education reform and everyone else stands for the status quo of failing schools. Until we can break through that barrier, we aren't going to be able to have a real discussion about education reform.

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