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Update: Petrilli's Surprise Apology -- & CitizenStewart's Difficult Choices

Stewart twitterChris Stewart, the blogger who (among others) successfully called out mostly white male middle aged reform critics for their "belief gap" over this past weekend, scored another victory today with a seemingly heartfelt apology from Fordham's Mike Petrilli over an Education Next cover story on single parents. 

But there are some reasons to wonder whether Stewart's successes have been as strong as it might have seemed -- or could have been.

For starters, the Petrilli apology for being goading and insensitive is nothing more than that.  There's no offer to change the cover, retraction of the issue, or change the all-white panel that's accompanying the magazine issue.  

I'm not sure there was more that Stewart et al could have hoped to get -- I wasn't even sure Petrilli would feel the need to apologize given how impervious he's been to criticism in the past and how much he generally delights in stirring things up.  So kudos for that, but still, it's just an apology (and more attention for Petrilli's event).

Somewhat more important, Stewart and others could be seen to have given up the chance to solidify what may be a larger, more fundamental point in the school reform wars by turning to fire on Petrilli and the offensive magazine cover. In so doing, he essentially let Gary Rubinstein, Anthony Cody, and other reform critics off the hook for their incessant criticism of poor minority student success (and the stunning lack of diversity among those who say they're advocating for poor minority children) - for now, at least. 

So again, it was an impressive series of Twitter offensives by Stewart and others, who are bringing up incredibly important and difficult issues for the reform community and its critics alike. I don't want any of that to stop, and was happy to have been included in the conversation and to have helped it along in some small way (probably not).

But I guess the question is whether it's more important from that point of view  to take on reform critics like Cody and Rubinstein (and Ravitch -- where was she?) or to take on reform allies like Petrilli. Perhaps the mostly white male reform community needs awareness raising as much as the mostly white reform critic community. Yeah, it probably does. Perhaps both can be done at the same time. That's probably the hope and aim. But alas, I'm not sure such a thing is possible. 

What do you think?

Related posts: New Voices Challenging Reform Critics' "Belief Gap"Reform Opponents Are Winning Online (For Now)Shame On Reform Allies Who Let Rhee Critics "Get Away With It"Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders? Image via Twitter. 

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Impervious?!?!
Agree or disagree with him, Petrilli is honest and sincere.

He didn't create that awful cover.

Being such a nice guy, Petrilli probably didn't realize what he was opening up with his tweets.

Those of us on the reform side of this conversation ignore the points Stewart is making at out peril. The over-arching problem is the shortage of black and Hispanic and low-income voices in leading roles in our movement. If we better reflected the communities we aim to serve, Ed Next's cover would probably have looked different, its panel probably would have looked different, and we could have focused on the substance of the issue, which is whether we are truly succeeding in building institutions that enable all children to grow to their potential.

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