Conviction by Omission

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post (who as a regular education column) recently posted an opinion piece by Gregory Michie, who teaches in the Dept. of Foundations, Social, Policy and Research at Concordia University, Chicago:


I was so riled up by this article (as a writer, mostly!) I had to comment online. Here's what I wrote:

Re: How to Be Taken Seriously as a Reformer
This article is so full of holes it's almost funny.  The thesis is that:
"Urban districts nationwide...have hired those with business or legal backgrounds to head their school systems. Major voices in the reform conversation such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and philanthropist Eli Broad have never been teachers. And when Oprah wants to talk about schools, she invites Bill Gates or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg...."
None of the four people you list head an urban school district. Three of them are philanthropists who are active in education reform but also in many other issues.

Who did run an urban school district until very recently (and who else does Oprah go to in education issues)? Michelle Rhee, a former teacher (now replaced by Kaya Henderson, a former teacher). Both have devoted their careers to helping kids living in POVERTY access better schools (this issue is ALWAYS on the radar for these and most other "no excuses" education reformers I know). 

Who else was a former teacher? Joel Klein, who was always clear that his goal was reducing poverty through education reform. Are these well-known education leaders any less former teachers because you don't happen to agree with their views?

All teachers are not the same, not all are putting in the extra hours you describe (I know, because I was a teacher too). And it is kids in poverty who are most heavily impacted by this. It's not a small thing, especially for the children spending years of their valuable time in classrooms where effective teaching is not happening. 



Posted on January 10, 2011 .