One Reply to “Still More Manifesto”

  1. Kahlenberg has a pretty good desciption of the problems. He was too nice to you guys, but not glowing enough regarding our views.

    Seriously, NCLB has spurred a series of mini-versions of the NYC teachers strike. We have stepped into Karl Rove’s punch. Rove, we should remember, said that NCLB would get the Democratic constituencies, education supporters, teachers, unions, people of color, and liberals all fighting each other.

    One reason why we are so vulnerable to divide and conquer is that education is personal and it is a sensitive issue. We can not improve education without engaging in frank conversations about class, race, and family.

    I was disappointed that Kahlenberg did not suggest solutions. Especially since Obama is uniquely situated to lead that conversation, and since it is good politics. Middle class families of all races did not fleee inner city schools solely for selfish reasons. Vouchers supporters are not bad people because they want to help their own kids. The demand for safe and orderly schools is not racist or authoritarian. That guilt trip horse has been “road hard and put away wet.” We need a frank conversation, not shame and blame.

    When I saw the intiatials “TAP” I did not realize they meant The American Prospect. You implied that Kahlenberg put forward a path to reform. I figured that that path was the Milken TAP program for performance pay. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, and I suspect it will be the type of compromise that Obama supports. A better proposal would be the AFT’s Toledo Plan.

    Obama should undertake a three pronged approach. Firstly, articulate the hard truths that we mostly believe but can’t say aloud. Secondly, challenge us to improve schools’ learning cultures, including raising the behavioral standards of students. Thirdly, hold teachers to a higher standard. The best way to do that is to distance ourselves as much as possible from the NCLB brand of accountability which resulted deviousness. We should follow the advice we give to teachers – focus on observable behavior. Hold teachers much more accountabile for their behavior, and trust that student achievement will rise.

    Some will complain that we can’t just “trust” that learning will improve. That’s where Obama’s leadership comes in. Its time to move beyond the fearfulness nineties’s Democrats who did not believe we could compete with the Republicans without borrowing their tactics. Si se pueda.

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