Time for a Ceasefire

On Friday, Gotham Schools linked to an op-ed by Conor Williams of The Washington Post. In the piece titled "Ending the Education Wars", Williams calls for a much needed time out on the sensationalist rhetoric being hurled by both "sides" of the education reform debate.

I put "sides" in quotes, because like Williams, I think that in essence everyone involved in the discussion about education today agrees that we are failing an unconscionable number of our students, especially those who are poorest and disenfranchised. Yes, there are differences, some profound, about the fundamental cause of the achievement gap and the best approach to closing it. One side argues mainly that we need to address the social disadvantages outside the classroom, and the other side has honed in on the quality of the education inside the classroom.

Both sides seem to be digging their feet in and heating up their attacks on the other. Williams points out:
Here's some good news: Both sides are right. Teacher quality and poverty can both affect educational outcomes. Here's the bad news: Both sides seem bent on disproving their opponents instead of improving education.
I have become increasingly frustrated with the tone of the debate on education reform, especially amongst teachers online. I completely respect everyone's right to disagree, but the extent to which people are demonizing those with different opinions is ridiculous.

It especially bothers me that this language is being perpetrated by teachers whose job it is to promote critical thinking and analysis of diverse ideas. It should be possible to argue, without, as Williams says, assuming the worst intentions of our opponents. Regardless of insults being hurled back in forth, we're all interested in what's best for the kids, so let's figure out how to give it to them.


Mad Jack said…
You're a good man, McGee.

Next time you see the primates throwing used food pellets at each other, you might wonder just where these people graduated, what their GPA was in college and why their diction hasn't improved since grade school. Not all teachers are bright or well-educated. Many can't define critical thinking, others wouldn't know critical thinking if they were pissing on it. Some are incapable of writing a cohesive paragraph free of blatant grammatical errors.

At the same time, I remember a plaque my brother bought me some years back: here. Note that this applies to people on both sides.
Ruben Brosbe said…
Thanks Mad Jack. There are definitely people espousing knee-jerk reactions on both sides, and I admit I've even been tempted to drop the old, "You care more about protecting adults than kids" line, which isn't really fair. It does seem like some of the arguments I've run into though are focused on protecting the jobs of all teachers without regard to the reality that incompetent teachers exist, and teaching is not a right. But, I respect that point of view to a certain extent as long as it's honest and based on reason. Meanwhile, there are numerous blogs out there written by and for teachers that have resorted to name calling and lack any logic.

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