Cozy in That Bubble
Due to some administrative challenges, I haven’t been writing for a while. Fortunately, during my hiatus, there hasn’t been much of consequence to cover. The SDE and their champions at the Oklahoman still think that A-F Report Cards matter to the schools. They still think money doesn’t. Oklahoma still doesn’t have a testing company for grades 3-8. And Superintendent Barresi still believes that public education is failing.
Friday’s newspaper column from the desk of the state superintendent makes this point, glomming onto the conclusions drawn by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has determined that our education system represents a national security risk. Barresi had the privilege to attend the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform and hear from the likes of Rice, Jeb Bush, Joel Klein, and Richard Haass – all famed critics of public education.
The combined teaching experience of these individuals: zero days.
While I would agree with the premise that having a well-educated society supports the interest of national security, I reject the idea that the reforms put forward by this group contribute to that interest.
Reports from the summit highlight the fact that we spend more on education than many other advanced countries. These reports ignore the fact that our schools are charged with educating every student – even the poor ones, the ones with special needs, and the ones who struggle early. (This is no complaint, by the way – it’s our moral obligation to do these things.)
The summit also discussed how the US lags academically behind other nations in math and science. This selective reporting does not mention that when our top students go against other countries’ top students, we do quite well. Again, if you’re going on averages alone, we may fall behind because we’re capturing the entire population. But those kinds of details aren’t sexy to reformers privatizers. Incidentally, our science scores would probably be better if we didn’t bury our heads in the sand.
From the summit, three recommendations emerged were recycled:
- High standards
- School choice
- National security audit
The first two sound way too familiar. On the third point, I have some ideas of what will emerge. More science. More math. More foreign languages. Less literature. Less art. More online instruction. Less union membership. More TFA classrooms. Less professionalism in the education careers.
When our state superintendent ensconces herself among non-educators who have never given themselves the privilege to spend day after day helping students face-to-face, it’s no surprise that she draws the conclusions she draws. And it’s no surprise that she and her acolytes continue with the narrative of failing public schools.