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

Friday, December 05, 2008

More on the David Brooks's Sliming of Darling-Hammond

Dan Brown has a nice post at HuffPo that takes David Brooks down another button hole. All of it deserves reading, but here is my favorite part:

Brooks champions Rhee and Klein as sunny "reformers," but that's code for scorched earth ideologues. He takes a shot at Barack Obama's chief education adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond as their ostensibly gutless, obstructionist rival.

He writes:

Darling-Hammond, a professor at Stanford, is a sharp critic of Teach for America and promotes weaker reforms.
Many are still steamed at Darling-Hammond, a teacher quality expert, for her 2005 study "Does Teacher Preparation Matter?" which pointed out that Teach For America corps members leave the teaching profession more quickly than other teachers. Actually, Darling-Hammond has a great deal to offer as a reformer, not a smasher, of the American school system.

In the conclusion of her essay "From Separate but Equal" to "No Child Left Behind", she writes:

...Although there is a strong privatization instinct in Washington at the moment, the American people reiterate in poll after poll that they support public education, are willing to invest in it, and expect it to be a leavening agent for society-- in fact, some might argue, the only one left in America. While there are improvements to be made in schools, schools... will meet the aspirations Americans hold for them only if they are given intelligent guidance and the critical supports they need, while children are assured the health and family supports that allow them to be ready to learn.

Darling-Hammond sees value in nurturing and supporting teachers, not running them out on a rail based on high-stakes test scores. She sees collective bargaining for teachers as fundamentally fair. She understands that while our situation is urgent, we don't need to resort to shock doctrine-caliber panic and blow up our whole system. President-Elect Obama made an excellent choice in bringing her on his team.

David Brooks offered Americans a false choice. Here's hoping our new president will sweep aside that brand of discourse.

Dan Brown is a teacher in Washington, DC, and the author of The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle. He is not a member of any teachers' union.

1 comment:

  1. Intelligent guidance and critical supports...yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

    Assured health and family supports for children? Wow, what a concept.

    At a recent forum presented by "Teachers and Parents for Real Eudcation Reform" here in DC, I CRIED. To hear intelligent people from several different perspectives in education talk about the CRITICAL needs of our kids and our profession was mind-boggling.

    My tears were more of fatigue and near-trauma than joy and vindication. I am simply worn out by educating myself, scrounging for materials, advocating for kids, begging for money and materials, and getting lambasted all the while.

    Paying me $100,000 a year ain't gonna fix this.