When sixteen education leaders — including New York City’s chancellor Joel Klein, and D.C.’s now-former chancellor Michelle Rhee – get together and publish an article titled “How to Fix Our Schools: A Manifesto”, it’s probably going to get somebody riled up.
Greatest hits (with comments and emphasis):
- “It’s time for all of the adults — superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike — to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children.” (I see how you threw that gauntlet down. Nice form! By the way, this is what Catholic schools have been saying since… well, forever.)
- “A 7-year-old girl won’t make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master’s degree — she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success. (Note that they’re not suggesting credentials and effectiveness are mutually exclusive. Note also that Catholic schools have a track-record for compelling students to reach for success.) By contrast, a poorly performing teacher can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.”
- “The glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher — and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone who chooses this noble and difficult profession — has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future.” (We’ll not be having minced words with our education reform today, I see.)
- “Closing a neighborhood school — whether it’s in Southeast D.C., Harlem, Denver or Chicago — is a difficult decision that can be very emotional for a community. But no one ever said leadership is easy.”
- “For the wealthiest among us, the crisis in public education may still seem like someone else’s problem, because those families can afford to choose something better for their kids. But it’s a problem for all of us — until we fix our schools, we will never fix the nation’s broader economic problems. Until we fix our schools, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will only grow wider and the United States will fall further behind the rest of the industrialized world in education, rendering the American dream a distant, elusive memory.” (To borrow a phrase from Batman, POW! Incidentally, immigrant and disadvantaged kids have historically been successful at – any guesses? — Catholic schools. Is there a theme here?)
The 356 responses in the article’s now-closed comments have way more to say on all of this, and indicate people have been sufficiently riled up.