Who Is Education’s Rachel Carson?

Rachel Carson was born on this date in 1907. Silent Spring galvanized a lot of action with less resources than are spent on education advocacy today. Why?

3 Replies to “Who Is Education’s Rachel Carson?”

  1. Probably because groups like DFER or people like Michelle Rhee And Arne Duncan offer the Groucho line:
    “Who are you going to believe? Me or your own eyes?

  2. Is that a rhetorical question? Seriously, it’s not the same culture today–about much of anything. Too many folks are fenced-in behind digital barriers and our politics have turned into a zero sum game that the GOP has rigged. The two things that have worked are gay marriage and weed. Could also be, there is not an education crisis for most students, especially the white middle class and on up. The public is inundated with scare stories but they don’t really see it day to day. Turns out, it’s really about the poor and newly arrived: I could go on about the media, economic rights, disinformation and so on. It’s a fascinating and terrible thing to contemplate. There is no there, there.

  3. The answer is not in the “who”, but in the “what”. In other words, there need not exist one person to carry the torch for Education, as Rachel Carson did so eloquently in respects to her cause; but we should be sure that those that are speaking out in the name of policy changes are continually evaluating the legitimacy of the policy being shone. While both Silent Spring and many of the educational policies that are sunshined today address failures in the system through their discussions of effectiveness, efficiency, and performance – environmentally and educationally (respectively) – Silent Spring also had an element of legitimacy that allowed it to reach its objective. In her article, Legitimacy and Public Policy: Seeing Beyond Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Performance, Jennifer Wallner (2008) states “[t]he central message… is to encourage policy scholars to look beyond performance, effectiveness, and efficiency to examine the role that legitimacy plays in the successes or failures of public policies and the governments who create them.” The author continues by noting that there are “factors that can affect the assessment of legitimacy in the eyes of societal interests. The substantive alignment of policy content with the dominant attitudes of society and the procedural elements found in the processes of policy development and the implementation influence the perception of legitimacy” (p. 437). The legitimacy of education policy can be addressed through the alignment of dominant attitudes held by government, stakeholders, and the public. Policy change is about government figures actively engaging in the conversation with stakeholders and listening and compromising, much like happened when Carson did her work.

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