An education reform warning for Democrats

Posted by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, February 27, 2013

If there is one area where there is bipartisan support in President Obama’s agenda, it is education reform. And that’s too bad. Here to explain the history of this — and why it is a problem — is Jeff Bryant, a marketing and communications consultant for nonprofits. Bryant is a marketing and creative strategist with nearly 30 years of experience – the past 20 on his own – as a freelance writer, consultant, and search engine marketing provider. He has also written extensively about public education policy. This post appeared on the Education Opportunity Network, a new online publication edited by Bryant.

By Jeff Bryant

It’s a conventional wisdom among Democrats to write off the state of Texas as a land of gun wielding troglodytes who genuflect to Rush Limbaugh and swill Fox News Kool-Aid. (Full disclosure: I was born and raised in the Lone Star State.)

But it may surprise most Democrats that the education policies that our current Democratic administration advances were, in a large part, invented in the oh-so awful red state of George W. Bush and Rick Perry.

The widespread idea that government operatives working in cubicles buried deep in the bowels of state capitals can monitor the “effectiveness” of schools in the hinterlands of the country was a scheme born and enacted first in a state known to be among the most oppressive in its treatment of people who Democrats like to refer to as “the least of these.”

But what happened this weekend in the Texas capital of Austin revealed a groundswell of resistance, from multiple political factions, against what has been heretofore defined as “education reform.”

A rally that brought thousands of people into the streets to protest deep cuts to the state’s education budget became a mass outcry against education policies that enforce high-stakes testing and accountability systems.

Education historian Diane Ravitch declared Texas the place where reform “madness” started and where “the vampire gets garlic in its face and a mirror waved and a stake in its heart.”

Former Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott talked about turning in his “reformer card” and described promoters of school accountability schemes as people who are “selling two ideas and two ideas only: No. 1, your schools are failing, and No. 2, if you give us billions of dollars, we can convince you [of] the first thing we just told you.”

And Texas school superintendent John Kuhn called the pushback to school reform measures, “our San Jacinto.”

If Texas set the precedent for the last 20 years of education governance, is it now the state about to hurl the current reform model into the dustbin of history?…

continue reading at Washington Post


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