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THOMPSON: "Cocksure"

Hubris2 The financial engineers (whose money, methods, and culture have so influenced the statistical engineering of education "reformers"), and who wrecked our economy, were not just motivated by hubris, writes Malcolm Gladwell. The "cocksure" arrogance of the powerful is an adaptive trait that is doubly dangerous because "in conflicts involving mutual assessments, an exaggerated assessment of the probability of winning" can produce "increases in the probability of winning." A mindset develops where "I’m good at that. I must be good at this, too." Then comes the fall.

One would have thought that Michelle Rhee and her fellow newcomers to education would have been thrilled by the GAO report on the District of Columbia School System. It emphasized the extreme difficulties that reformers faced, and largely endorsed their goals. Even so, the report concluded that:

The "DCPS lacks certain planning processes, such as communicating information to stakeholders in a timely manner and incorporating stakeholder feedback at key junctures, which would allow for a more transparent process." 

DCPS officials said that the district "involved other stakeholders, such as parent organizations and the Washington Teachers' Union in its process of changing the discipline policy. However, according to two DCPS officials, the DCPS did not have a planning process in place to ensure systematic stakeholder involvement."... "Officials in Chicago and Boston said public stakeholder involvement was critical to community support for various initiatives, such as decisions on which schools to close. Officials and stakeholders in New York cited a lack of stakeholder involvement in decisions that were eventually reversed or revised."

Victor Reinoso, deputy mayor for education, could have at least feigned some modesty, but instead he replied "the Fenty administration was more interested in results than detailed blueprints. Our emphasis has been on accountability and results, and less on plans which the city was quite successful in doing previously."

This from the administration that just eliminated funding for the office of independent evaluation demanded by the D.C, Board of Education. - John Thompson.


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