In part 1, we learned that Forbers asked a group of billionaires how to fix American education. In this installment, a group of leaders review the billionaires’ agenda.
“In our last installment, Forbes called a summit of Many Very Rich People to lay out what it would cost to fulfill the Must Have list for remaking American education. Now, we’re going to sit around with some alleged representatives of education stakeholders. And we should note that it’s happening in the department of Forbes.
“Paul Tudor Jones (founder of the Robin Hood Foundation) will be directing traffic as Andy Cuomo, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten and Kay Henderson (DC school chancellor) jaw about this. I should note that I’ll be walking you through the Short and Marginally Sweeter transcript; apparently there is a longer version, but I just can’t bring myself to go there.”
So here are the billionaires’ five Big Ideas:
“1) Teacher efficacy– recruit best and brightest
2) Universal Pre-K– because childhood is too long
3) School leadership– give principals greater power over staff
4) Blended learning– broadband and computers for everybody
5) Common Core/ College Readiness– insert all classic baloney arguments here”
What do our leaders think? They love the Big Ideas. But they have different timelines and slightly different strategies.
Take Cuomo, for example:
“Cuomo observes that he didn’t get anything done by being nice, so he made everybody’s money contingent on how well they follow his orders and he hasn’t had any problems since. Money buys compliance!”
Here are Kaya Henderson and Arne Duncan:
“Henderson gives Arne some strokes for being the only government guy who will fund innovation, and I think we can all agree that using a bureaucratic waiver maneuver to create new laws without the benefit of Congress is pretty innovative. The guillotine was also hot new stuff in its day.
Arne will now deliver more History from an Alternative Universe:
Having a common way of measuring success is just so basic and fundamental to all of your businesses–that’s a radical concept in education. We need to get to that point of having a high bar and having clear ways of measuring how everybody is stacking up against that bar. Under No Child Left Behind, about 20 states dummied-down their standards, they reduced their standards. Why? To make politicians of both parties look good. It was terrible for children. Not one person challenged those politicians. Until [philanthropic leaders] and the broader citizenry hold politicians accountable, we’ll continue to be mired in mediocrity.
“It’s true. In thirty-plus years of teaching, I have never measured success in any manner. Just throw darts at a board and call it a day. But states did not dummy down under NCLB to make politicians look good. They did it to save their states’ school from punishment under the heavy brainless hand of top-down federal mandates. They did it to avoid an unavoidable punishment that was inevitable because the feds set standards that nobody believed could be met, but they set them anyway. The dummying down was a completely predictable result of the perverse incentives built into a unsustainable punishment-based test-driven system created by educational amateurs in Washington DC. Dammit, Arne, if you want to learn a lesson from NCLB, learn that one, and learn it in some manner other than repeating the same damn mistakes.”