Although I often disagree with Rick Hess, I think he is the most insightful of the reformers and the nicest as well. He has a code of civility, and he never descends into mud-slinging or name-calling, unlike others in the reform camp.

In his latest article, I was surprised and delighted to see his acknowledgement that the pendulum is swinging away from the Bush-Obama reforms. He tacitly admits, as few other reformers do, that the era of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top has failed, and (as John Merrow said in his latest post) “the air is humming,” and something great is coming. The current federal law (Every Student Succeeds Act) is a stripped-down version of NCLB, still insanely test-focused, in my view. Under ESSA, despite its grandiose name, there is no hope, none, that “every student will succeed.”

Rick looks at the wave of teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky (with more likely to happen) and draws five lessons.

First, “Teachers are immensely sympathetic actors. For all the gibes, harsh rhetoric of the accountability era, and tsk-tsk’ing occasioned by polls in which people say they don’t want their kids to be teachers, the reality is that people really like teachers. In surveys, no matter how much talk there is about “failing” schools and problems with tenure, teachers are trusted and popular.” Although he doesn’t say it, I will: People trust teachers more than hedge fund managers or billionaires.

Second, “The Trump era has made it tougher for GOP officials to plead “fiscal restraint.” For years, GOP governors and legislators have said there is no more money, but the national GOP has just added billions to the defense budget, over a trillion dollars to the national deficit, and cut taxes for corporations by more billions.

Third, the reform movement must shoulder a significant part of the blame for demonizing teachers, demoralizing them, and building a reservoir of rage. “Along the way, teachers came to look and feel like targets, rather than beneficiaries, of “school reform,” which may be why bread-and-butter demands from teachers are ascending as the guts of Bush-Obama school reform are sinking to the bottom of the “discarded school reform” sea.”

Fourth, teachers’ strikes and walkouts are succeeding because they have broad appeal.

Fifth, he sees the current moment as a good time to rethink compensation, pensions, and staffing. In the minds of reformers, this could be converted into their usual mindset: merit pay, performance pay, replacing pensions with savings plans, etc. As the Kentucky walkout showed, teachers will not sit still while their retirement benefits are whittled away. Part of the appeal of teaching is the expectation that one will not retire to a life of penury after a career of low-paid service.

This is one of the most hopeful articles I have recently read about the pendulum swing that almost everyone knows is coming.