Whenever anyone dares to challenge the corporate reformers’ ideas, whenever anyone points out that all their plans have come to nought, when anyone says that they are demoralizing teachers and promoting privatization, they will inevitably get the reply:

“Do you have a better idea?”

This is a curious response because it could apply in any number of dreadful situations: Suppose someone is pounding someone on the head with a rock, and you say “stop!” Would they answer, “Do you have a better idea?” Suppose a train is headed for a cliff, and you urge the engineer to change course; would he answer, “Do you have a better idea?”

Well, Peter Greene has better ideas. (So do I; read “Reign of Error,” which responds to that question.) Peter is a high school teacher in Pennsylvania who apparently reads everything and writes faster than anyone else on the planet.

He begins:

As much time as I spend writing about what I think people get wrong, it’s important to keep some focus on what I want to see done right. So let’s look at the major issues in education these days and consider what the positive outcome would be in a perfect world, and what would be a hopeful outcome in the real world.


Turning schools into a competitive marketplace is toxic for education. It does not drive improvement and, as currently practiced, it does not empower parents, but instead more commonly disempowers them.

In a Perfect World…

Choice pushers like to say that no child should be trapped in a failing school just because of her zip code. I say that no child should have to leave her neighborhood just to find a decent school. People don’t want choice; they want good schools.

So in my perfect world, every child is able to attend a great school in his own neighborhood, with his neighbors, near where his family lives. Every school receives the funding and support it needs to be excellent.

In this world…

No more building a well-funded, well-supported school as an excuse to abandon the school already existing school. If we must have choice, let it be between excellent schools with, perhaps different focuses, or with the goal of improving a city and community through creating a diverse learning community.

But all schools must be fully funded and fully supported. No more “Well, a thousand students are trapped in this failing school, so we’re going to invest millions of dollars in creating a great school for 100 of them.”

He has a good idea about standardized testing:


In a perfect world…

It just stops. It’s done. We don’t do it, at all, ever. Period, full stop.

In this world…

The BS Tests are uncoupled from any stakes at all. They don’t affect student standings or promotion. They aren’t used to evaluate teachers or to rank schools or to affect anybody’s professional future. “But how will we hold teachers and schools accountable?” someone cries out. Here’s the truth that some folks just refuse to see– the BS Tests do not hold anybody accountable for anything except test scores, and they do so at a cost to the real goals that most real humans expect from their teachers and their schools.

And once you do all of that, the market pressure is on test manufacturers to come up with tests that are actually useful, and not junk.

He offers other good ideas of what public education should look like. Read it and offer your own ideas.