Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm Not Even Sure What We're Arguing About

Marc Fisher:

There's a knock on the door, and a parent whose child is causing trouble at Truesdell Educational Center warily opens up. Six Truesdell employees, loaded with pizza for dinner and plans to change the child's direction, trundle into the apartment -- the boy's teacher, two social workers, a psychologist, a behavior specialist, and the principal, Brearn Wright.

This is supposed to be a profile of a school in DC implementing reform, Rhee-style. From my experience, that's a heck of a lot of support staff for a school of roughly 350 students, if they literally all work full time at that school. "Truesdell employees" may not be used very strictly here.

So... you don't just need high-quality teachers? You need teachers plus support staff? I mean, I don't understand how all this is supposed to work. If you don't have adequate support staff is that a valid excuse? Or do you not really need support staff? The rhetoric is just getting all mixed up. Is the "no excuses" stuff not meant to be taken literally? Are we supposed to be in on the joke? Is it ok to do anything inside the school to support students, but not ok to advocate for any non-school programs?

Also, one last pass at the KIPP op-ed. How weird is it to advocate for this:

Obama could establish a paradigm-shifting goal -- ensuring that within 10 years every child in America will be on track to earning a college degree or completing a meaningful career training program.

Without mentioning any of the many proposals floating around right now to make college more affordable?

Really, it seems like these folks just can't bring themselves to advocate for any public policy outside of schools.

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