Thompson: Petrilli Gets It Half-Right
In "Alfie Kohn's message: Half-crazy, half-true," Fordham's Mike Petrilli does something that "reformers" may see as crazy in his half-true critique of testing opponent Alfie Kohn. Petrilli concedes that "many American schools are “mindless, soul-killing” institutions, especially the schools serving our most disadvantaged communities," and "it’s probably true that test-based accountability has made the situation worse, at least in many locales." Petrilli acknowledges that, "even the most hawkish reformer must blush at depictions of the endless test prep and shamefully narrowed curriculum" that Kohn lambasts. Like Petrilli, I think E.D. Hirsch's arguments for Core Knowledge are more persuasive than Kohn's progressive ideals. Unlike Petrilli, I think Kohn makes a better case than true believers in testing who are doubling down on the bubble-in route to "reform." As he substantially agrees with Kohn's indictments of standardized testing, Petrilli labels Kohn as a demagogue, and he concludes with a flourish, "Education reform shall not be crucified on a cross of 'no.'" No!!! When you are stuck deep in a ditch, it is crazy to keep on digging. Yes!!! If Petrilli wants to meet teachers half way, we can agree, for instance, that "test-based value-added scores do, in fact, provide valuable information about the things most people care most about." We can then agree on something that Petrilli has often affirmed -applying stakes to those metrics is crazy.-JT (@drjohnthompson)image via.