Chris 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.