by Max Brantley
Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post of what Michelle Rhee, the self-promoting school reformer, wrought in Washington, D.C. Who needs urgency for half-baked ideas?
It's a premise applicable everywhere. Does the failure of schools to reach overwhelmingly disadvantaged children mean charter schools MUST be better? Virtual schools MUST be better? Unproved, eager young college grads MUST be better than veteran teachers?
Even in Fairfax County Public Schools, which generally knows better, there’s a rush that doesn’t quite make sense: Nearly all middle and high school students began using online books in social studies this fall, my colleague Emma Brown reported. It is the Washington area’s most extensive foray into digital textbooks. Here again, the system didn’t ensure equality of access to computers. Here’s what Karin Williams, director of operations for the system’s instructional services division, told Brown:
“That little unknown piece about the access is the only thing that still kind of makes me a little anxious.”
Little? When did access issues become little?
Reformers like Rhee, believed they could substitute urgency for thought and care. They ignoreed models elsewhere that worked, but didn’t fit into their unproven standardized-test driven framework.
Of course, in the end, the only ones who get hurt by the rush to change are poor kids. As usual.