I always hold out hope that Mike Petrilli will be the conservative who one day leaves behind his brethren and realizes that the punitive policies of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top were a huge and costly mistake. Why do I hold out hope for Mike? I know him, and I know he is a good man. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has young children, and he will soon see how the testing monster will try to devour them and destroy their love of learning.
In his last exchange with Deborah Meier at “Bridging Differences” at Education Week, I see the glimmer of hope that I have been waiting for. Mike describes himself as a “Whole Foods Republican,” and then asserts that we are helpless to do much about poverty because we don’t know what to do. That is not a glimmer of hope, as I think we can forge poverty-reduction policies that work, as other nations have. We should not give up trying.
What gives me hope is not Mike’s sense of futility about poverty, but his proposal that states should have the authority to allow schools to opt out of the soul-deadening testing-and-accountability regime if they can show that their metrics are better than those of the federal and state governments.
Thus, he would give his consent to the New York Performance Standards Consortium, which has documented its success in graduation rates, college admission rates, and persistence in college rates. Granted, it took time to get that data. A group of schools needs a decade or more to generate the results of their program.
But think of the creativity and innovation that would be unleashed if schools were offered the freedom to opt out and select different ways to measure their success.
Good job, Mike.