IF YOU’RE AN AMERICAN TEACHER it’s likely you’ve noticed a depressing trend. Deep into a second decade of all-out school reform, or third, depending on who’s counting, we’re still going nowhere fast.
“Backward” doesn’t count.
School reformers seem baffled; but baffled school reformers don’t stay baffled long. When one reform plan doesn’t work they conjure up another plan. They’re school reformers for god sakes. That’s just what they do.
Perhaps we need to look at schools like automobiles to grasp why it is we’re not speeding down the intellectual Interstate like the reformers say we must. Imagine that there are three autos, all broken down alongside I-10, in the Arizona desert. The drivers are three real teachers. Each has been carrying five passengers, five students. One car is a new Lexus LX 570. The second is a 2006 Honda Civic. The third is a battered 1972 Chevrolet Impala.
None of them will run.
A bus load of school reformers heading for a convention in Las Vegas sees them stranded by the side of the road and screeches to a halt. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan climbs out to survey the dire situation. Other famous passengers include Michael R. Bloomberg, mayor of New York, and Joel I. Klein, his one-time school chancellor. Klein got worn out after trying for eight years to fix the city schools. Now he’s back in the cozy corporate world, earning millions, giving Rupert Murdoch legal and education-related advice. Michelle Rhee is a passenger, too, and there are all kinds of politicians and lobbyists and sales persons for big testing companies filling the seats. Sadly, none of them knows a pile of shit from a spark plug when it comes to car repairs. More…