When any educator dares to challenge the conventional wisdom and say that our schools are not failing, they can expect to be excoriated by reformers. A reformer these days is someone who believes that the “system” is obsolete and broken and must be handed over to private corporations.
Reformers dismiss NAEP scores because they show that test scores of all groups–blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians–are at an historic high. Reformers love the international scores, because they show that the US scores about the international average. They ignore the fact that the international tests, like all test, reflect the influence of poverty.
Low-poverty schools in the US have amazingly high scores on the international tests–higher than the average for Japan, Finland, and Korea. As the proportion of impoverished students in the school goes up, the scores go down. You will never hear a reformer acknowledge that every standardized test score in the world is a reflection of the affluence or poverty of the test=takers.
The definition of a reformer these days is anyone who agrees that public education stinks and that children must be rescued from failing public schools. Because of NCLB–with its unrealistic mandate that 100% of all students must be proficient by 2014–most schools in the US are now “failing schools,” even a great school like New Trier High School in Illinois is a “failing school.”
If you dare to say that the reformers are wrong, you are smeared as a defender of the status quo, or in the pay of the unions.
The reality is that the reformers are wrong. They are wrong on facts. Their “solutions” have no evidence. Some–like merit pay–have repeatedly been shown to be ineffectual. Others–like charter schools–have repeatedly been shown to be no better than the public schools they replace. Nonetheless, the reformers push boldly ahead on their reckless mission to privatize and dismantle public education.
Anyone may attack, anyone may call themselves a reformer, no matter how unqualified, but no one is allowed to counter the attacks. Only the views of non-educators are permitted into the public discourse. And anyone who defends the profession will stand accused of being self-interested or greedy and not caring about those they serve.
Frankly, the idea that educators are not allowed to defend their profession against attackers, marauders, and vandals is a sure way to ensure its destruction. And that is why I constantly applaud those who do speak up. If you don’t, the public will never understand the grand theft that is taking place in their own communities.
How about this double standard: It’s okay to raise $1 billion from the super-wealthy to attack public schools, but not acceptable to stand up against the marauders.
If you defend voiceless teachers, you must be in the pay of the unions even if you are not. If you solicit millions of dollars from the 1% to attack voiceless teachers, you too can be a national icon.