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Friday, March 15, 2013

Words of Wisdom on Ed Reform

It is sad that we had such a plethora of smart people in the last School Board election who didn't win.

One who comes to mind is Jack Whelan who would have been the thinking person's Board Director.  He wrote this comment at the thread about Ron Sims and it's worth reprinting in case you missed it.  His words are the canary in the coal mine to what I believe will happen when the weight of ed reform starts to collapse on itself in about 10 years.

He doesn't mention Obama but he might have been speaking of him.  I love that he mentions Jerry Brown who has been one of the hardest-working public servants in our country.  (Bold mine.)

Every politician presents him or herself as an agent for change, but we're living in a time when almost everything we hear from mainstream politicians about the kind of changes they want to effect in education are terribly wrongheaded and destructive. The reason is simple: Politicians want to succeed, and they don't think they can without the help of people who have a lot of money.

And I'm trying, but I can't think of one influential wealthy or political elite who is working in education who has it right or even kind of right. Maybe Jerry Brown in CA. So when the consensus about reform is so universally and consistently wrong among the wealthy and powerful, it's like a cult, and the politicians realize that they have to join it if they want to be taken seriously and to succeed. Why would they take anybody else seriously. I mean seriously.

These people need an intervention, but there's no one powerful enough on the scene today give it. A broad-based, energized people's movement might be one way to do it, because certainly listening to sensible counterarguments from anti-reformers has no effect. Ambitious politicians who gravitate to the cult of wealth and power instinctively, unconsciously understand the language of wealth and power. The language of good sense is not nearly as appealing.

So in the meanwhile those of us who have no interest in joining that cult do what we can do, which really amounts to little more than boarding up the windows and waiting for the storm to pass. And once it passes, for eventually it will, people of good sense can come out into the open to clean up the mess and to start rebuilding.


End of Jack's comment.


Now here's what Jerry Brown said in his State of the State address in January.

In the right order of things, education—the early fashioning of character and the formation of conscience—comes before legislation. Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children. If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify.

This year, as you consider new education laws, I ask you to consider the principle of Subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level. In other words, higher or more remote levels of government, like the state, should render assistance to local school districts, but always respect their primary jurisdiction and the dignity and freedom of teachers and students.

Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught and how it is to be measured. I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work – lighting fires in young minds.

My 2013 Budget Summary lays out the case for cutting categorical programs and putting maximum authority and discretion back at the local level—with school boards. I am asking you to approve a brand new Local Control Funding Formula which would distribute supplemental funds — over an extended period of time — to school districts based on the real world problems they face.

Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.

He ended this way and I concur with this thought:

 As the great jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said when describing what stirs people to action: “Feeling begets feeling and great feeling begets great feeling.” You were alarmed, you stirred yourselves to action and victory was the outcome."

Thank you to Jack and to Jerry.

3 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Can we trade Inslee for Jerry?

Eric B said...

Carlyle had a pretty good line at the 36th District town hall today. "The most important education reform is to fully fund it." (Operating off memory, so I may not have gotten the words right.

Dora Taylor asked a good question about the A-F school grades and the school takeover/transformation bills. All three of the 36th legislators said that the punitive approach was wrong, and that the bills as written were DOA. As it happens, I was across the table from a Stand rep, who stood up and left immediately after that response.

Jan said...

Eric B: delightful question! Great answer! And sweet audience response!