Written by a PA teacher, but it equally might apply to Ohio too.
It’s not about the children.
The education reform movement may be about a lot of things, at least here in Pennsylvania, but it certainly isn’t about our children.
If it were, efforts to bridge the achievement gap and advance opportunities for all children would look a hell of a lot different.
If it were about children, each and every public school would be awash in resources and technology. A licensed school nurse would be in each and every building so that the health and safety of kids were not compromised. All schools would have these necessities, not just “experimental” and privately-managed schools who are flooded these and then labeled a success.
If it were about children, students in the poorest neighborhoods—those most at-risk—would step into vibrant learning environments each morning—schools that met their intellectual, artistic, and athletic needs and inclinations. Schools would not be turned into grim test-prep facilities, with a curriculum narrowed to core, state-tested subjects. Children would be given a reason to be excited about coming to school, aside from making AYP.
If it were about children, we wouldn’t value differentiated instruction, then test children all the same way.
If it were about children, schools would be as safe as the offices of those politicians in Harrisburg who cut funding to public schools, and then hand out EMO contracts to campaign contributors and others once a school has been labeled a “failure.”
If it were about children, those who cut funding for vital family services would realize the inextricable link between childhood poverty and educational outcomes. These same politicians would be as incensed by children in their state having inadequate nourishment, dental, vision, and medical care as they are about whether same-sex partners have a right to be married.
If it were about children, in Philadelphia, a state takeover charged with both improving financial management and educational outcomes would be put to rest as a failed experiment. A district’s management team wouldn’t be able to run a district into insolvency, say they are sorry, and then move on to lucrative consultant positions. Reformists like Michelle Rhee and Arlene Ackerman—who help to cultivate a culture of testing “irregularities”—wouldn’t be allowed to exit with a golden parachute before being held accountable for the results under their leadership.
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