Tough On Schools

Over at Talking Points Memo they’re hosting a discussion of Paul Tough’s new book “Whatever It Takes” about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone.   Discussants are Paul, me, Amy Wilkins of Education Trust, Kira Orange-Jones of Teach For America, and author Alex Kotlowitz.

Update:  There is more posted now.   And per a query from Tough, here’s my take on the BBE – EEP split.

4 Replies to “Tough On Schools”

  1. We should take it seriously when Alex Kotlowitz asks what all of the fight is about. The single best answer is, the EEP punched us in the nose first. I suspect that the biggest reason why many, but of course not all, of the EEP “reformers” punched unions and teachers is that they saw the political advantage of attacking us. Of, course, we must punch back. But, we need to find a way out of this fight.

    You wrote accurately that the issue of sequencing is the key, but educated onlookers aren’t aware of the subtle points we are debating.
    I don’t understand why you continue to hold so firm on those subtle points. Whatever It Takes provides more evidence that the sequencing argument works against the EEP. You may introduce a miracle accountability system soon. But as of today, I’m unaware of any solutions to the unintended effects inherent in NCLB-type accountability. And think of all of ther accountability system that are described by Ed Sector that could be used for rifleshot accountability in building capacity. Under NCLB they are virtually useless.

    But the point is that these differences are subtle. You want data driven accounability, while we trust more in data-driven decision-making. Many EEPers want data-driven accountability to be the driving force of reform. We want accountability to be an important part of efforts to build capacity. You guys want a single overarching accountability, while we want rifleshot accountability. I don’t think Obama wants to be bothered by these details. Paul Tough has it right. Provide teacher (union?) input on accountability, and in addition to a commitment to early childhood ed and a Marshall Plan for educators, create twenty Harlem Children’s Zone. Since undoubtedly those efforts would be unionized, we would have a safe environment for honest discussion.

    But changing gears, you also wrote,

    “while Canada doesn’t believe schools can do everything on their own they can do a lot more than they do now. That’s the essence of the EEP principles: All else equal we can expect a great deal more from our public schools than they’re delivering today”

    If that is the essence, we could bury the hatchet today.

    But you could help in another way. Encourage your allies to stop referring to us as “the status quo” and your side as “reformers.”

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