Jeff Bryant is Right about Education Reforms

Jeff Bryant is Right about Education Reforms January 13, 2016

Jeff Bryant, from Salon:

I call these folks the edu-crats. Education is not a top-down endeavor but a grass-roots relational matter. Leave the teachers alone. (Within reason, as it has traditionally been.)

What Reform Fans Don’t Get

Indeed, resistance to the education reform agenda is not as much a rejection of its various policy features as it is a rejection of the philosophy that drives it.

This philosophy puts little stock in democratic governance of schools, believing instead that really smart people, armed with the right data and algorithms, are what it takes to determine education policy from New York to Nevada.

This core philosophy makes infinite sense to folks with backgrounds in law, business management, finance, or economics, but tends to rub educators and parents the wrong way because of its failure to acknowledge that teaching and learning are primarily relationship-driven endeavors and not technical pursuits.

To teachers, it makes about as much sense to base their actions exclusively on a data set or a marketing principle as it would for husbands and wives to conduct their marriages on that basis or for parents to raise their children that way. Sure, knowing some objective “things” about how students are doing is important, but there’s way more important stuff to attend to.

And parents will grow ever more skeptical of the false promise of “school choice” because it doesn’t deliver what they really want: the guarantee of good neighborhood schools that are free and equitable to all children.

But too few reformers get this. Instead, what we can expect in 2016 is for the current education establishment to use the considerable financial resources at its disposal to mount yet more marketing and public relations efforts, while the pushback from grassroots public education advocates will grow even stronger, and political leaders will be increasingly pressured to decide where they stand.

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