Andrew Delbanco At The NY Times Review Of Books: ‘The Two Faces Of American Education’

Full piece here.

Delbanco sets up a dichotomy between long-time education reformer Diane Ravitch, who’s drifting into a rather closed defense of public-schooling as is, and Michelle Rhee, who led the charge against the status quo in Washington D.C. schools and ran into a lot of problems:

‘Perhaps a starting point would be to acknowledge, as Ravitch does, that the golden age of master teachers and model children never existed, and, as Rhee insists, that the bureaucracy of our schools is wary of change. One thing that certainly won’t help our children is any ideology convinced of its exclusive possession of the truth.’

Worth a read.

Readers of this blog will know I tend to favor non-union, non-collectivist reform of public schooling, despite the fact that charter schools are clearly no magic bullet.

I reserve the right to view even the most dedicated school-reformers, pragmatist-inspired defenders of the common good, and crusaders for the public interest with a skeptical eye, while simultaneously recognizing that they are the ones trying to tackle many of the fundamental problems our society faces in terms of education and opportunity.

I don’t believe education fits under Milton Friedman’s intellectual net, but I like seeing how he comes at the problems of scarcity of resources, students failed by the system, and entrenched educators.  As teachers will tell you, many parents simply aren’t involved, and abdicate their responsibilities to their children, the schools, and everyone else…money can be a good way to keep people accountable who run the system, but the rational incentive model of money and the freedom to choose with kids leaves a lot to be desired:

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Also On This Site:  Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

Full post here.

‘Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary.’

Ravitch seems to think that Rhee didn’t allow the people who need to ulimately take control of their own lives do so…which is why she was voted out.

Yet, the endemic poverty and political corruption in D.C. has led to an untenable situation, not able to be solved by those who hold up ideals of democracy broadly either.

This is still not a reason to get into bed with the status quo, and all the political, ideological and monied interests involved who want to keep things as they are and get their share.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

From The Daily Beast-‘Michelle Rhee: My Break With The Democrats’

Full piece here.

Rhee is standing up for vouchers.

If your overall political philosophy defines the public good so broadly that it allows some groups (teacher’s unions) to free ride on the public good, often losing sight of the children, then when do you stand up for the children, and the parent’s right to give their shot at the best choices possible?

Isn’t that right more closely aligned with our founding documents?

Rhee:

 “My job is not to preserve and defend a system that has been doing wrong by children and families. My job is to make sure that every child in this city attends an excellent school. I don’t care if it’s a charter school, a private school, or a traditional district school. As long as it’s serving kids well, I’m happy. And you should be, too.”

Here’s the question we Democrats need to ask ourselves: Are we beholden to the public school system at any cost, or are we beholden to the public school child at any cost? My loyalty and my duty will always be to the children.’

Parents wanting the best for their children is one of the true engines of our society, and it is one of the engines that drives people out of poor, dangerous neighborhoods, leaving schools overrun by the problems of those neighborhoods.  We give people the economic freedom to live in the suburbs, and to get out, which helps create some of the best schools possible.  I submit that you can see the lure for what I call ‘excessive egalitarians,’ especially in education, those who want equality first, and often equality of outcome and a broad raft of rights no matter the cost, and in some cases at the expense of children.

When those public schools left behind become inefficient and mismanaged, wasting money on pupils with very little change in outcomes:  What do you keep, and what do you change?

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

Full post here.

‘Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary.’

Ravitch seems to think that Rhee didn’t allow the people who need to ulimately take control of their own lives do so…which is why she was voted out.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

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Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”

Full piece here.

With the ousting of D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, so went reform.  Rhee explains where thinks she failed (not necessarily in closing bad schools and not necessarily by failing to reach consensus):

“Still, I could have done a better job of communicating. I did a particularly bad job letting the many good teachers know that I considered them to be the most important part of the equation. I should have said to the effective teachers, “You don’t have anything to worry about. My job is to make your life better, offer you more support, and pay you more.”

and of all the people whose interest (who would have thought people are self-interested?) can get in the way:

“Policymakers, school-district administrators, and school boards who are beholden to special interests have created a bureaucracy that is focused on the adults instead of the students.”

Unions, adults, moneyed interests are getting in the way (no more politicization please).  Her suggested solution for the present:

“The common thread in all of these communications was that these courageous people felt alone in battling the bureaucracy. They want help and advocates. There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst.”

Let’s hope it can get off the ground, and ultimately stays true to its mission, and recognizes when it’s needed no more, or needs to change.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

and more broadly and philosophically:  Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Repost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not

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From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Full piece here (link will be updated, but will not last)

Michelle Rhee will step down.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

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From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’

Full post with short video here.

There’s perhaps nothing to get the blood boiling quite like seeing a child’s future become sacrificed to a special interest group, entrenched interests, or to political wrangling. It has consequences for all of us.

Also On This Site:  From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?because like immigration reform, politics can’t entirely solve the issue: Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’

I don’t believe education fits under Milton Friedman’s intellectual net, but I like seeing how he comes at the problems of scarcity of resources, students failed by the system, and entrenched educators.  As teachers will tell you, many parents simply aren’t involved, and abdicate their responsibilities to their children, the schools, and everyone else…money is a good way to keep people accountable:

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