Sunday, January 1, 2012

Comments on the reform message . . .

Jonathan and John made comments to my post on the reformers and scrappy traditional educators online presence as identified in an Alexander Russo post on This Week In Education. Jonathan shares his thinking about the intent of Russo’s post considering his body of work and relationship to the reformers. He suggests that what the reformers need is leadership and a convincing collection of evidence.

What I do know is that what reformers need is leadership, not some hope for viral influence using the internet to achieve change. Russo's post about comments and Twitter responses as a coordinated 'battle' between David and Goliath is absurd. Assembling a convincing collection of evidence and spreading the word is a lot tougher than generating $$$ from a 'debate' website.

In his comment, John agrees with Jonathan on the need for evidence to support the claims of the reform movement.

I think there is leadership, Jonathan, but until they can find concrete, scientific evidence that their reforms will bring about positive change in our school system, their message will continue to lack strength. As educators, it should be our mission that we continue to demand these facts.

I believe that there is leadership, but what is lacking is coordinated leadership. We see the education department pushing their reform priorities through waivers to NCLB and required changes to qualify for initiatives such as Race to the Top. Foundations such as Gates provide revenue to those systems aligning with whatever their flavor of the year is and then there are others looking at the potential revenue associated with promoting choice. If they were to in some way find enough common ground to organize their efforts the “scrappy traditional educators” would be in serious trouble. This would be especially true if it would lead to a credible online presence in the online debate, something Russo says is lacking.

But these voices are neither coming from the classroom nor active in the online debate during the days and weeks between mainstream news stories, which are an increasingly large part of the education discussion. This leaves others - think tankers and crackpots and Whitney Tilsons and such -- to fill in the empty spaces. But those folks aren't numerous or prolific or tenacious or, ultimately, credible enough, either. They are too self-important to leave comments on other sites, and too professional to post on weekends or after hours when everyone else with a day job is most active.

Jonathan ends his comment with this question.

We should ask ourselves, has 'reform' really made things better?

What do you think?

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