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Thompson: Jeff Henig & "The New Coaching Project"

FootballJeffrey Henig’s Education Week Commentary, Reading the Future of Education Policy, explains the centralizing shifts in schooling from local control to federal and state government and towards for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He astutely describes "the end of exceptionalism," where American education, for better or for worse, is handled like other major domestic policies.

Unfortunately, Henig neglects the two most important factors that have shaped educational exceptionalism and he thus ignores the lost opportunity which could have tempered the top down micromanaging of recent years.

What if “reformers” had come down into schools, and improved the outputs of high school football and basketball?

What if “the Billionaires Boys Club” had started with The New Coaching Project and hired a football player like Brandon Daly to help improve big-time sports?  Surely he would have shown coaches the respect of listening to their concerns and, for instance, he could have worked with them to use data for diagnostic purposes.

Daly would probably have not rushed in and told coaches across the country what plays they had to call on third down.  He likely would not have mandated a schedule for when basketball coaches call time out or scripted the instructions they would have to give their players, regardless of the game's circumstances. With a respected profession like coaching, reformers would have listened, adjusted, and worked with practitioners for reality-based solutions.

After The New Coaching Project improved sports outcomes, local schools might have become more open to input from big government and corporations. And, the national powers might have reciprocated.

After the TNCP built relationships with coaches and athletes, perhaps it could have helped other reformers to show some respect for teachers and students, and consider ways of collaboratively working through local problems in the classroom.    Perhaps we could have formed local-federal partnerships where the diversity of schools, students, and educators was respected.   Even the TNTP might have not seen the need to turn teachers into widgets, while claiming to do the opposite.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.   



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