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.

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14 years ago

The good news here is since RI did not win the federal dollars, we will not have the commensurate federal mandates shackling any attempts by the state to break the union strangelhold and enact real reform to ensure a better product (a better educated workforce) for less taxpayer dollars. This “award” was nothing but a Trojan Horse, like all of the other “gifts” bestowed on the states by the Obama administration. No thanks.

14 years ago
“That’s all I have to say about that.” Forrest Gump

14 years ago

“for those of us who see reform mainly as a route toward undoing the damage that teacher unions have done”
Shock! I can’t understand why teachers wouldn’t want to sign onto that. And as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, a strategy (blaming workers for systemic problems) that dooms “right-leaning” reform to failure.
Your premise that Obama wants to fail by implementing the truly bad ideas of the fringe right is pure wingnut fantasy and hardly worth reading, much less discussing.

14 years ago

This sounds like sour grapes – it’s only worthwhile reform if it screws unions, right?
I’ll try to explain to my mother that it’s teacher unions who caused the flooding in her basement.

14 years ago

Putting aside for a moment that we tend to come at things from different sides of the political spectrum:
When you say that “right-leaning reform” is doomed to failure, what would you say in response to the ideas 1) that you can’t do TQM or implement a W. Edwards Deming 14-point strategy in an environment that is massively rule-bound, as are most geographic-monopoly public schools, and 2) leadership (which I think is the term someone like Deming would prefer over “management”, but I could be wrong) shouldn’t have to give something back, in order to thin out the rules to make operations more flexible, if it will help to make a better product?

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