An Article of Note in Crosscut
I read an article in Crosscut this morning that was one of the more thought-provoking pieces I've seen about the state of Education Reform in Washington State. "Washington's new education initiative is no A+" by Alison Krupnick explored the wading pool depth of A+ Washington, the Education Reform initiative from Excellent Schools Now.
I find myself in a place very much like Ms Krupnick. I feel a great disconnect. In fact, I feel at least three great disconnects.
Like her, I support the four principles of A+ Washington:
- Expanding access to early learning,
- Excellent teachers and principals;
- Increasing college readiness; and
- Implementing flexible approaches to K-12 education that include accountability systems.
After all, who wouldn't support these things? I also support motherhood, the flag and apple pie. Like Ms Krupnick, I was stymied when I tried to learn anything specific about A+ Washington as a plan. There is the first disconnect: there are no action steps connected to these principles. There is no plan in this plan. This doughnut is all hole.
The second disconnect comes with the leadership behind this plan. Excellent Schools Now is a coalition of education groups assembled and led by the League of Education Voters. Its membership has a lot of overlap with the Our Schools Coalition, another coalition of education groups assembled and led by the League of Education Voters. Excellent Schools Now is led by LEV, Stand for Children, Teachers United, and Partnership for Learning. All of them also have the same agenda, the same PR firm, and the same funding source. Correction: Teachers United does not use a PR Firm. Why do they all have to be separate groups if they all share the same agenda? All of these groups have leadership, but none of them seem to have much membership. All of their leaders are well-connected with each other but none of them seem to be connected to any grassroots. That's the second disconnect here.
Finally, there is another weird disconnect at work here. The leadership of these groups connect with each other and are connected with political elites, but they aren't doing any work either with the people who actually make decisions that impact classrooms and students. As Ms Krupnick described in her article, she left the Excellent Schools Now fundraiser breakfast and went to a meeting at her child's school. They were in separate universes that had nothing to do with each other.
I read Ms Krupnick's work with great empathy. I am in exactly the same place that she is in. I see great ideas and political elites in one world but they seem completely disconnected from any actionable plans or actual students that exist in my world.
Most interesting about this was that the article appeared in Crosscut, an online news and editorial source that has not questioned Education Reform before this.