Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Beginning of Conversation or the End?

John Merrow:

Some critics of Education Nation are finding the silver lining, saying things like, “A national dialogue is a good thing.”

Well, I’m looking hard for signs of a dialogue, but what I am finding instead are lines hardening between two camps. Scarily, it reminds me of the abortion/choice battle. Right now it’s in the naming stage. Those who were excluded from Education Nation are calling their opponents ‘anti-teacher’ and ‘anti public education,’ while the Education Nation crowd is labeling its antagonists ‘defenders of bad education’ and ‘protectors of inept teachers’. Naturally, both groups are working hard to wrap themselves in ‘pro-children’ garments.

It’s hard to see much good coming out of this, frankly. I wish everyone would emulate the three McGraw prizewinners. I’m sure all three of them had to fight battles to triumph over complacency, inertia and hostility, but I doubt that any of them ever declared themselves to be the forces of good, battling evil. That’s what I think may be happening out there in Education Nation.


Chris Lehmann said...

Here's where I'm a little hopeful.

John Merrow wrote that. And he's been someone I was worrying about for a while. Mike Petrelli was critical of WfS. Rick Hess has had moments of sanity right now.

I think WfS might end up having a different effect on policy makers than expected. It's *too* much a piece of propaganda. EducationNation was too critical of teachers and too much a mouthpiece for Rhee / Canada (who I think will regret where he is aligning himself.) It's too far in one camp. And sensible people are pushing back, because they know it's not true.

What we need to do is stake out the radical middle fast. We need to provide an alternative to the either/or mentality that is out there, and refocus the conversation around "What does good teaching and learning look like?"

Because there is energy right now. We just have to figure out what to do with it.

John Thompson said...

I understand why Randi has remained civil throughout this demeaning porcess. But we need to learn the lesson of this propaganda campaign. From now on, she should start every statement by noting that the president of the largest teachers union is not present. She should then note the absences of representatives of principals unions, and school boards organization, and of social scientists. When false statments are made about Rhee's supposed progress, she should not dignify it with a response but ask why Tom Payzant or Larry Cuban is not on the panel the correct such falsehoods.