Friday, April 30, 2010

Everyone Agrees

Good blog post today from Deborah Meier on the current conventional wisdom about education:
It reminds me of anther ploy that I run into a lot in the print media. "Everyone agrees," "a consensus has developed"—sometimes followed by a quote from the head of the union as the sole dissenter. I don't recall there ever being a discussion, so where and when did this consensus form around getting rid of "traditional" public schooling that rests on local communities? When did we have a discussion about the larger moral issues that "seniority" represents in general, not just in schools? Or due process? Why do we presume guilt, not innocence, when someone is arbitrarily sent to the so-called "rubber room"? Or, who should decide what curriculum and pedagogy to adopt—or reject? Or, how we should judge schools or teachers...not to mention kids! Who decided that algebra would be a gateway skill to possessing a high school diploma (and thus entry to almost any job)? Who decided that private, for-profit managers should take over large portions of public education—including replacing entire former public school space? Who decided that the representatives of teachers don't represent them—but are just "labor bosses"? Who decided that Ivy League-educated students fresh out of college will be better teachers of our kids than experienced graduates of the non-elite universities?
I could be mistaken, but it seems as if the ideas behind the specific examples she lists have really put down roots in the mainstream media over the past two or three years: schools are bad, teachers are self-serving and cling relentlessly to the status quo, teacher education is a waste of time, any ideas coming from outside education are by definition better than any ideas coming from inside, etc. Has anyone read anything interesting that helps explain how perceptions of education are currently being shaped by the media and other forces?

A related post worth reading is this one at Public School Insights by Claus von Zastrow.

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