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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mr. Duncan's Education Reform: It Is All About the Children

In the interest of fair and balanced blogging, I present an aggregation of the past month's hostile comments from the anonymous bin. No comments are published without name and email address provided. No comments are published that promote commercial products.

Dear Mr. Know-it-all-Blogger who never has a kind word to say about education reform:

I am so glad to live in a time when education reformers have stopped thinking about the adults and started focusing on what is good for children. For at least the past 50 years, selfish teachers, teacher unions, and even more selfish teacher colleges have so focused on making sure that teacher have degrees, fancy credentials, job security, and retirement plans that the children have been entirely forgotten in the process.

I am glad that the new disruptive reformers led by philanthropists and post-partisan political leaders see that parents deserve to be able to choose teachers who have not had to jump through bureaucratic hoops like student teaching, courses in child development studies, and those waste-of-time teaching methods courses.

I am glad that those grown-up kinds of concerns that hide behind calls for child creativity, caring, emotional well-being, and democratic values have been finally outed for what they are: a way to avoid the real business of educating children for the global economy. I have compiled a list of things that Mr. Gates, Mr. Broad, and Mr. Duncan are promoting in the interests of our children that I, as one of the parents who have been paid to say so, entirely agree with:

I am glad that the real reformers know that children do not need schools with libraries or librarians, gymnasiums, art rooms or art teachers, drama, or school buses. These distractions may be good for the adults who whine for them, but children don't need them in order to prepare to compete in the global economy.

I am glad to see that real reformers know that children do not need teachers and principals with those education mumbo-jumbo credentials and degrees. Children know that math teachers need to know about math, not about them. And principals need to know about business, not about teachers--and certainly not about those selfish teachers who are more concerned with feeding their families than they are in teaching children.

I am glad that real school reformers understand that children don't need to know about how we once had elected school boards in order to understand how democracy works. They can always visit the mayor's office if they need a lesson in democracy, which they obviously don't.

I am glad that the real school reformers have taken the focus off the building and put the focus on the children. Buildings might be good for the adults who like to hang out in the teacher room, but buildings with their lunch rooms and fancy toilets and playgrounds don't educate children and make them ready to compete in the global economy.

I am glad real reformers understand that the best teacher is one that can follow a script that has been proven to raise test scores. Children need higher test scores to get into college--they don't need some teacher yammering about being creative or making excuses for not teaching what's in the book.

I am glad that we have a Secretary of Education who does not need a bunch of fancy research to tell him that charter schools work. They work, alright--otherwise, those who care more about adults than they do about children wouldn't be against them. And if they didn't work, we wouldn't have a Secretary of Education that was for them.

Dot Green


  1. Brilliant, thank you for posting this!

  2. OMG! This really does sum up the heartbeat of America! God help us all!

  3. Oh my. Of course children have no need of libraries, gym, art, drama if the goal is to create robots capable of competing in that vaguely defined “global economy.” Robots possess no hearts or souls needing to be fed by the knowledge and joy of literature, drama, or art. This content is valuable in itself, while serving as portals to higher level thinking such as analysis, evaluation, and heaven forbid, synthesis of new ideas. A robot has no need of these “frills” if a global economy requires only widget creators and counters. What an inspiring world vision, and what faith in future generations to leave behind spreadsheets rather than landscapes, novels, and plays. These subjects are what make us human, which create routes by which civilizations express their values and leave their marks. These subjects celebrate the joys and challenges of being human and provide inspiration for us to reach into ourselves and ask vital questions about who we are and what our purpose is.