November 8, 2013 | Posted At: 12:37 PM | Author: Alexander Russo | Category: Foundation / Advocacy Follies , School Life Pop Culture , Teachers, Teaching, Unions , Think Tank Mafia
Reform: Insult-Hurling Coming Mostly From Reform Critics
Politico education editor Nirvi Shah has taken to Twitter this morning to defend Stephanie Simon's latest article against my unwarranted and unfair criticism -- as she should.
The article in question reports that name-calling has become the norm in the education debate and suggests that leaders of both sides have engaged in this practice evenly. "Each side caricatures the other: Reformers are greedy privateers and corporate tools. Union leaders are selfish defenders of an indefensible status quo."
In reality, however -- and indeed in the examples cited in Simon's article - it's leaders who oppose reform who have more frequently made specific attacks on the character, sex, and ethnicity of individual reform leaders much more commonly.
Arne Duncan, Wendy Kopp, and Michelle Rhee aren't calling their counterparts names. Diane Ravitch, Randi Weingarten, and Chicago's Karen Lewis do so with some regularity -- and are given space to justify their behavior in the Politico piece. (Ravitch -- get well soon! -- calls it necessary polarization.)
To its credit, the Politico article cites several examples of Ravitch resorting to personal attacks, and notes that her apologies have sometimes been quite slim. Some readers won't care as much as I do whether the attacks are made against individuals, or groups, or policies -- or whether it matters whether one side is doing it more than the other. The differences between Arne Duncan and RiShawn Biddle won't matter to others, either.
I've critiqued several recent pieces by Simon -- and presumably edited by Shah. It's got to be quite annoying. So far, we've avoided calling each other any nasty names.