Bruno: What's The Point Of The Network For Public Education?
When Diane Ravitch announced the formation of her Network for Public Education last week, I was fleetingly optimistic that the group could serve as a useful alternative to existing well-meaning-but-frequently-misguided reform organizations.
Some days later this appears unlikely to be the case.
The existing crop of school reform advocacy groups have policy positions that are often dubious on the merits, but they manage to effectively set the agenda in part by having positive platform at all.
The NPE doesn't seem to stand for anything.
It is fairly clear what the NPE opposes because they list many of those policies specifically under their "mission": high-stakes testing, school closings, and private contracting.
What the NPE supports is much less clear. Their mission statement says only that they prefer "evidence-based reforms," a claim so vague as to be meaningless. (Would StudentsFirst say anything less?)
It looks very much like the NPE is an organization dedicated entirely to opposing other organizations. Fighting ill-conceived reform proposals may be worthwhile, but unless you are also offering an alternative set of reforms you are merely postponing their inevitable implementation.
If the folks at the NPE want to win policy battles they need to figure out how they'd like to see education improved so that reform organizations don't continue to fill up that idea vacuum with proposals of their own. That would also give supporters something to get excited about fighting for.
As the moment, unfortunately, the NPE seems only to be validating the (unfair?) stereotype that reform critics don't have any ideas for improving public education. And that state of affairs isn't good for anybody. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)