Monday, February 8, 2010

Unspeak in the New Yorker

I know that it's about a month old at this point, but I'm finally caught up on my New Yorker reading so I've finally had a chance to read the profile of Arne Duncan. On the whole, I thought it was pretty interesting and encapsulated a lot of my ambivalence about the guy and his agenda. Some things I'm totally on board with. Others, less so.

What I'm totally opposed to, though, is the kind of ridiculous journalism that slips in lines like, "In the fight over education in America today, there, roughly speaking, two major camps: free-market reformers, who believe that competition, choice, and incentives must have a greater part in education; and liberal traditionalists who rally around teachers’ unions and education schools." (For the record, that's the author of the article, not Duncan speaking.)

In other words, there are people who want to help kids learn through a competition-based reform model and there are people who are union-loving, education-school-promoting, failing-school-allowing defenders of the status quo. At least with the "roughly speaking" phrase there's the chance that some other camps might exist.

I've written about this before, but it doesn't make me any less angry to see. School reform doesn't necessarily mean charter schools and teacher incentive pay. It just doesn't. It can also mean reducing class sizes, reworking curriculum, promoting the community school model, and a host of other efforts taking place across the country. For whatever reason, our journalists just can't seem to wrap their minds around the fact that there could be a whole lot of different reform ideas out there and that people who don't think charter schools are the answer might not be in favor of keeping everything exactly the same.

Unspeak lives, even in the pages of the New Yorker.

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