"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Sanders and Kress Tagteam

I am here in Washington for the PDK Summit on Public Education. Things got rolling yesterday with John Merrow moderating and sometimes dominating a panel of "policy superstars," brought in to mold the conference talk on NCLB. Front and center on the Hilton stage was Beelzebub himself, Sandy Kress. At his left hand was Bill Sanders, who nodded assent when Kress spoke, just as Kress did when Sanders spoke. These two dominated the discussion, and if I were a betting man, I would guess that Sanders and Co. have the inside rail position at the starting gun in the Growth Model Sweepstakes. Sanders even bragged that his outfit had helped one of the two successful supplicant states chosen by Spellings to pilot a growth model plan earlier this year.

So while growth model talk is dominating the conversation here, there is no sign in Kress's sneering face that the White House plans to give an inch in moving away from the impossible requirements of 100% proficiency. To do so would mean jettisoning the privatization plans that require the wholesale failure of public schools to make them work.

The consensus on the stage was that reauthorization will move forward next year, but that is not the talk among Senate Democrats who know something about the groundswell of resistance that is now beginning to emerge. This resistance is evident in the small group and individual discussions here at the conference, among those folks who were given no voice at the big Sandy and Bill Show yesterday. Merrow provided less than 20 minutes out of the 2 hours for questions from those who paid him to bloviate, rather than moderate, and he was downright rude to one gentleman who took the time to note that he had been a member of PDK for 50 years.

For a group like PDK dedicated to democratic education and living, I would suggest future moderators who are less blind to their own ego needs and some participants who know something besides their own ideological/business agendas.

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