Redirecting Education Reform Toward the Same-Old
Readers know that I’m extremely skeptical — that is, even more skeptical than usual — about efforts to force education reform from the federal government down. Especially with the Obama administration behind the wheel. An article that’s been sitting in my queue all week gives some indication that it’s not an irrational fear:
The only two states that won in the first round [of Race to the Top], Delaware and Tennessee, both worked with their teacher unions early in the application process. In Delaware, 100 percent of teacher union locals signed off on that state’s application; 93 percent of the locals did so in Tennessee. This support, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said during a phone interview with reporters, gave him confidence that the reforms would “reach into every corner” of those states.
Rhode Island, in contrast, gained the endorsement of only two of the state’s 40 or so teacher union locals, Providence and Foster.
Clearly, the administration wants unions to ensure that their authority isn’t substantially threatened by reforms, which means (for those of us who see reform mainly as a route toward undoing the damage that teacher unions have done) that the objective is really to co-opt the popular markers of right-leaning reform. When it comes to education, choice has got to mean choice, and accountability has got to mean accountability. Otherwise, new strategies will be set up to fail — and perhaps with the intention of failing.