Home > Uncategorized > Undercutting the “Reform” Narrative

Undercutting the “Reform” Narrative

December 31, 2013

Today’s WSJ editorialized against the newly appointed NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina, calling her “…a competent steward of the education status quo” in marked contrast to the “…radical reform ideas” proposed by her predecessors who worked under Michael Bloomberg. And what were those radical reform ideas?

…more competition (charter schools) and more accountability (measuring school and teacher performance in part by how well students do on tests). Ms. Fariña is said to favor collaboration, rather than competition, among schools. Collaboration is a nice word, but it will achieve nothing if all it means is accommodating the demands of unions for less school choice and less accountability while demanding more money.

If charter schools and standardized tests had done anything to improve the overall performance of students by ANY metric a retreat from that direction would be appalling and would make perfect sense. No such evidence exists. Indeed, the metrics used to measure school performance have not changed appreciably during the Bloomberg years, and he has had control of the schools for over a decade. Holding children raised in poverty, over 40% of the school population, to high standards without providing more support for their learning before they enter school is foolish. diBlasio’s idea of taxing the affluent NYC residents to underwrite the costs of universal prekindergarten was one of the ideas that got him elected. much to the consternation of those WSJ readers who will have to foot the bill. Unsurprisingly, the WSJ decried this as “income redistribution” instead of providing the level playing field needed to ensure social mobility: 

But no amount of wealth shifting will raise the lifetime prospects of kids who can’t read or can only do 8th-grade math before they drop out of school. The education reform agenda is about reducing income inequality the old-fashioned American way—upward mobility and economic opportunity. By accommodating the education status quo, Mr. de Blasio will make the income gap even larger.

The WSJ offers no evidence that Bloomberg’s “education reform agenda ” provided “more upward mobility and economic opportunity” because the evidence contradict this: income inequality GREW during Bloomberg’s term of office as did the opportunities to advance economically. But no matter, the WSJ is not interested in “reform” anyway: they like things just the way they are and will continue to sell  the big lies their readers believe in.

Unfortunately, the WSJ’s big lies are painless to adopt and require no sacrifice on anyone’s part— except those unfortunate enough to be born into poverty. Worse, the WSJ’s big lies are difficult to undercut because the narrative that accompanies them is embedded deeply in the psyche of WSJ readers. The WSJ readers believe that government is inefficient and the “private sector can do it better”; believe they can have quality public services without paying taxes; and who believe it is possible for a poor child to improve his or her lot in life by applying themselves or “getting three consecutive high quality teachers”. Their magical thinking is supported by faith and not by evidence and, as one commenter notes, even data-mongers have difficulty overcoming faith-based beliefs. Those of us who want to help children raised in poverty need to change the perception that we oppose accountability. We should use the unarguable evidence provided by the testing regimen that charters, union-busting, and school-closing are NOT working and the higher expenditures in suburban districts DO make a difference.

%d bloggers like this: