The current educational debate can be very frustrating. On the one hand, I find most ecstatic “reformers” ignorant of what it means to be a teacher, arrogant about power of their ideas, oblivious to the unintended consequences of their inherently limited proposals, and uninterested in the way their proposals get implemented, even though this is perhaps the most important factor in the success of a reform. On the other hand, I find that “anti-reformers” have just found a corner of the internet to bemoan all changes, throwing out conspiracy theories about a corporate takeover of education that are rooted in nothing more than ad hominem attacks (they are funded by some businesses, therefore their school/teachers/leaders are advancing long-term business interests). Rick Hess discusses why it is such a shame that the this group has drifted so far from the direction of compromise: They have essentially removed themselves from the conversation by offering no substantive alternatives, leaving mainly the former group to influence policy in an often wrong-headed way. There are now very few respected people influencing policy who are open to some kinds of smarter accountability and choice while also demanding more public money for critical needs (like nutrition, early childhood education, after school activities, etc.).
For example, Diane Ravitch was part of an onslaught of criticism of the MATCH ed school, listing it as just another corporate/charter school program that devalues the teaching profession, without pausing to think that MATCH offers one of THE BEST criticisms of TFA: They offer a one year training and residency program that get’s teachers ready to excel on day one, not after a year of struggling. These are the debates we should be having! But unfortunately nobody is engaging in these debates. The reformers are either working on crafting such programs or think that all disruption is generally good, and the “anti-reformers” think that almost any change is a hostile takeover of our schools. Ugh.