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Smart List: 60 People Shaping the Future of K-12 Education
5 Replies to “Inside Out”
Re: Whiteboard, All snark aside, Andrew, I think you and Whiteboard are performing a good service for the people and institutions you serve. When I surfed into Whiteboard’s website and came to this page http://www.whiteboardadvisors.com/insider-insight though, I just about lost it. I mean, I know this kind of work is “important” and vital and everything else–it’s just so unnecessary, so wasteful, and ultimately corrosive. Again, no snark, just my straight take.
Whiteboard and similar outfits make it quite clear education is not considered a kind of scientific art of professional persons preparing the next generations for their lives in the world; education is a political game played by people with power, money, and favors to be moved around the chessboard of districts and school officials and increasingly, private contractors. And, it’s just getting more and more complex and convoluted as more “stakeholders” and interested parties bury their snouts in a deep trough of financial slop with which to make a fast buck or a quick fix come reelection.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Other countries have figured it out, Finland most of all. And no, I don’t want to hear any crap about well, they’re so small and homogenous and all those other lame excuses as why their model won’t work here. It will. We just lack the will to make it work.
I notice that missing among the people they survey to get their “insider” scoops and party lines, are teachers. We all know they have nothing whatsoever to contribute to the national conversation. I also notice that Rotherham is part of the staff (i.e., “insiders”) of Whiteboard.
Jeff, and JD,
I’m sure if some teachers bought Whiteboard’s information for the yearly $5000, Whiteboard might start listening to them.
Before you all get too far down this path here’s a quick reality check about what this tool is and is not designed to do. The survey is designed to be a predicative tool – in other words to assess the wisdom of a highly informed crowd about possible policy outcomes. The model has proven to be pretty reliable on a range of higher ed and elementary and secondary issues (eg “edujobs bill,” “gainful employment rule,” ESEA reauthorization, budget/appropriation outcomes, etc…) That’s why after several years we’ve started making it more public. Although I do survey work and focus groups with teachers and other stakeholders this tool is not intended to be a broad survey of the field or various stakeholder desires. Rather, it’s a measure of what people closest to and most connected to policymaking think *is going to happen on various issues.*
Here’s an example to show why it’s done the way it is: If you wanted to know if Congress was going to pass a law affecting the airlines and what that law might specifically look like would you get better results with a random survey of pilots or a specific survey of people closest to the policymaking process? Obviously, while the views of pilots are interesting and important, on the question of what’s most likely to happen in Washington those most informed about the policy action are most likely to – collectively – have the best sense.
Sometimes we want to test perceptions, how policy elites perceive things (eg “was Race to the Top scoring fair in your view”) because that can matter in different ways. But in general we’re asking about what people think is going to happen, *not* what they want to see happen. And because it’s anonymous people can step out of role and we get pretty candid and useful takes that can inform – and hopefully improve – decisionmaking by various parties.
“Before you all get too far down this path here’s a quick reality check about what this tool is and is not designed to do.” Yeah, Andrew, I know. It happens in every industry and education is just a bit tardy in showing up at the trough. But now that the private sector and non-profits [srsly?] have gotten wind of Obama’s bonanza, it’s damn the torpedoes. I mean, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush-the lame sequel, all upped the ante but this Socialist from Kenya is trying to make capitalists* some serious moolah.
*advisors, publishers, pundits, test-makers, bureaucrats, educrats, general vermin, and mostest of all, Consultants.
Oh, and whiteboards, fyi, are the worst thing to hit my classroom since district ‘helpers’ looking for my wordwalls. Honest-to-Almighty-God chalk boards were extremely versatile. You could use different colors, shade in spaces to express gradations in cartographic intensity I mean, holy artistry Batman–and whiteboards require pens that if you huff them long enough, by accident ‘natch, will leave you as dazed and confused as your students.
“Sometimes we want to test perceptions, how policy elites perceive things (eg “was Race to the Top scoring fair in your view”) because that can matter in different ways.” Fair enough, it pays to know one’s interests. Btw, do policy elites know they are policy elites? See, thing is, if they know they are among the chosen, it stands to reason they know they are under scrutiny and second-guessing, no? If so, does it also not stand to reason the answers they provide might just be informed by how much they are informed about the stuff they themselves pull out of their…I mean, about the reforms and legislation they themselves create? Point being, the elites, by definition, create our world. What use is there surveying them? Unless of course, this whole elite-thing is just a kind of meme or myth of our time and not really a valid social construct of how policy is made and implemented.
I have other questions. Does one aspire to be amongst the elite? Or, is elitism thrust upon you? Weren’t people in the elite of [whatever] once just referred to as the powerful or the mighty or the horse’s hindquarters? When did this usage of “elites” happen, anyway?