They’re Telling the Wrong Story Again…

I’ve confessed before that I am an iPhone Apps junkie, and that my favorite app, at least the one I dial to first, is Mobile News “Powered by Associated Press.” This morning, at 5:00 AM, I wasn’t very happy with this app, as I learned that Barack Obama will likely choose Chicago schools chief, and Obama basketball buddy, Arne Duncan. The consolation is that it could have been much worse — small consolation, though plodding down the same tired and terrible road is not so much a certainty, as it might have been.

What truly disturbed me about the story (Sources: Obama Chooses Chicago School Chief), which was posted two hours ago, was its portrayal of the advocating factions.  The winning side was “..reform advocates who wanted a big-city schools chief who has sought to hold schools and teachers accountable for student performance.”  They backed Duncan or New York City’s chief, Joel Klein.

On the other side were the unions, who hold much sway in the Democratic Party.  According to the story, they “..wanted a strong advocate for their members such as Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor.”

I’ve lived and taught in two states, neither of which are union states — and I can vouch for the fact that No Child Left Behind is as unpopular in North Carolina as it is any place else.  The problem is not in who is held responsible.  They’re our children.  We’re all responsible.

The problem is a law that measure success in the simplest and most limiting way possible, how well students can answer questions the way they were taught to answer the questions.  I do not know Linda Darling-Hammond, but from her writings, she advocates richer learning experiences for students, that are inquiry, project, problem, and design based.  She promotes classrooms that operate based on what research tells us about learning — but threads of research that were virtually ignored by an administration that pinched pennies when it came to the well-being of people.

I’m willing to wait and see with Mr. Duncan.  He did, after all, attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, founded by and on the principles of John Dewey.

But I’ll reiterate my main point here. 

This is not a struggle over who to hold responsible.  It’s not about politics. 

This is about a culture, that is adapting to major shifts in nearly all of its intersecting environments, but refuses to realize that the one institution that is perhaps the most critical to our future, needs also to change — and change means doing it differently.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.