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

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Business Roundtable Prefers the Stupid and the Bought to Govern

The Business Roundtable and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce are about to foul their three-piece suits worrying that Mr. Obama could appoint a team at ED who may be more beholden to the educational needs of American schoolchildren than they are to the the testing-technology-textbook complex who brought you NCLB, corporate tutoring, corporate charter schools, Reading First, etc.

It must, indeed, be scary to imagine someone as Secretary of ED who has read the Business Roundtable's political playbook based on fear-mongering, teacher bashing, and a divisive uber jingoism that has carved out a special place to preserve the brashness, arrogance, and ignorance of the American business class in matters of education policy. For those who view education reform as doing the same things we were doing a hundred years ago in ways more profitable to the corporations that feed off schools, this is truly a scary time.

Here's a clip from a piece in WaPo that examines the anxiety being felt by the loyal opposition during the transition to a new governing team, a team where thinking is not suspect, actions are not simply the sum of the political arithmetic, and reflection is not judged as a sign of weakness:

. . . .The Ivy-laced network taking hold in Washington is drawing scorn from many conservatives, who have in recent decades decried the leftward drift of academia and cast themselves as defenders of regular Americans against highbrow snobbery. Joseph Epstein wrote in the latest Weekly Standard -- before noting that former president Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College -- that "some of the worst people in the United States have gone to the Harvard or Yale Law Schools . . . since these institutions serve as the grandest receptacles in the land for our good students: those clever, sometimes brilliant, but rarely deep young men and women who, joining furious drive to burning if ultimately empty ambition, will do anything to get ahead."

The libertarian University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, who is not related to Joseph Epstein, worries that the team's exceptionalism could lead to overly complex policies. "They are really smart people, but they will never take an obvious solution if they can think of an ingenious one. They're all too clever by half," he said. "These degrees confer knowledge but not judgment. Their heads are on grander themes . . . and they'll trip on obstacles on the ground." . . ..

After eight years of Paige, Spellings, Brownie, Harriet Myers, Rumsfeld, Gonzo, and W., any of whom needed no obstacle to put them on their arses, it must, indeed, be scary for the masters of manipulation to see someone coming to Washington who has studied all their tricks.

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