Reform: Sure, The Reform Brand Is Tarnished. But So Is The Other Side's
The New York Times' Sara Mosle has posted a fascinating entry about the issues facing the current school reform movement, using the work of Gary Rubinstein as a focal point. Go read it, if you haven't already. I can wait.
I have no issue with the issues Mosle raises, and Gary deserves the attention for his work expressing concerns and trying to engage with reformers about them. But, as I wrote on Twitter last night, the complaints about reformers -- their hubris, misuse of data, and distance from the classroom -- are pretty familiar now. I can recall any number of posts and articles that have raised these points in the past.
What I wish Mosle had done in her piece was to make one further connection, addressing the issue of school reform critics' blind spots. In my experience, reform critics' exaggerations, misuses of data, and hubris (some would call it hypocrisy) too often match those of the reformers they love to tear down, and this practice has become as much of a problem as the ones Mosle focuses on in her piece.
For her part, Mosle seems to agree with the point, writing on Twitter: The "dialogue has to be both ways, with both sides occasionally conceding a point (the hard part) not just making them."
As it stands, both sides occupy some pretty shaky ground. Who's going to get this discussion restarted? The rabble rousers on both sides will continue to exaggerate and pontificate -- that's their job, or at least their habit -- but what's really needed is someone who can figure out how to admit past mistakes and move forward.
The reform "brand" has become tarnished, sure, but so has the reputation and credibility of all too many reform opponents. And right now, those of us in the vast middle sort of hate you all -- both sides -- in roughly equal measure.