Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reform metaphors

On vacation this week but still blogging occasionally

Lying on a beach somewhere, thinking of course about metaphors for school reform. Doesn't everyone?

Bush used the best one, No Child Left Behind, coopting the Children's Defense Fund slogan of Leave No Child Behind, and turning it into its opposite with a near decade of punitive testing madness. Now Arne Duncan comes along with a far worse Race to the Top metaphor--the very opposite of leaving no child behind. A race metaphor, after all, clearly envisions (necessitates) educational winners and losers.

It's like Duncan's people met one day and said, let's continue NCLB only without all that nonsense about not leaving kids behind. Here's Diane Ravitch at her best, dropping the hammer on what she calls the Race to Nowhere:

Public hearings are pro forma; no decision is ever reversed. Parents and teachers may protest 'til the cows come home, and they can't change a thing. Their school will be closed, the low-performing students will be dispersed, and either new small schools or charter schools will take over their building. Some of the schools that will close are, funnily enough, small schools that were opened by Bloomberg and Klein only a few years ago. Does anyone believe that this sorry game of musical chairs will improve education? Does anyone in Washington or at central headquarters grasp the pointlessness of the disruption needlessly inflicted on students, families, teachers, principals, and communities in the name of "reform"? Do these people have no shame?

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