Thompson: When Wonks Become Parents, Things Change
Scott Joftus' "When Education Gets Personal," in Education Next, is excellent in several ways. Although he is an advocate of increasing academic standards, Joftus had an epiphany when his 2nd grade daughter was pushed into doing worksheets on probability "before she had any real understanding of the concept."
Inner city teachers might be frustrated to read that it took twenty years for a policy wonk to understand what happens when a troubled child is so disruptive that a teacher has to spend "more than half of her time trying to keep this boy on task." Even so, we must respect his acknowledgement that even one child "reduced learning time for my daughter, and seemed to steal some of her innocence and excitement about school."
Perhaps he can now get a sense of the frustration of inner city teachers and students in classes with eight to ten traumatized students. Joftus' best point was his affirmation that, "One of the best teachers my children have had is our regular babysitter, who speaks English as a second language and never graduated from high school."
Perhaps he will now endorse community schools that bring the full range of service providers and mentors into urban schools, and bring students out of their buildings and into the full diversity of our democracy. Perhaps Joftus will now remind reformers that education is more than forcing testable information into a narrow part of the brain.- JT (@drjohnthompson) image via