I've already posted my thoughts on what's wrong with education policy once, but I feel this is important enough to bring up again. I continue to see no reason why education policy should involve taking sides or demeaning others.
Why do I bring this up now? Two major reasons:
1.) David Brooks' op-ed in the Times on Friday makes what I believe to be a false distinction between what he terms the "status quo" and "reformist" camps. The two big press releases this week signed by large groups of people (here and here) strike him as warring factions. I see no reason why one can't agree with both. They both raise a number of good points. I already signed my name to the EPI report, and if I could figure out how to do the same for the EEP report without simultaneously signing up for e-mails then I would sign my name to that one as well.
2.) Despite the opinion of my new critic, I continue to believe that belittling others is both bad form and consequential. This all started when Chad Lykins took D-Ed Reckoning to task for calling the signers of the EPI report "jackasses" (though in strikethrough font). I simply fail to see how name-calling productively contributes to the conversation about education policy. Though he resorts to name calling (in a post already unproductively titled "A Dopier Approach to Education"), he does make some good points. But why would anybody that he's demeaned want to listen to what he has to say. Though the post is entertaining it, ultimately, seems unproductive to me. In short, I think the tone of the discussion needs to stay respectful -- otherwise we'll accomplish nothing.
In addition to the tenor of some blog posts and David Brooks' attempt to divide ed policy people, I can't help but notice that I see an "us against them" mentality pop up in blog posts all over the place. As just one example, check out this post on the Fordham blog. On the heels of a number of Fordhamites calling Eleanor Holmes Norton some pretty nasty things in light of her opposition to the voucher program in D.C., Liam Julian characterizes those advocating the maintenance of the voucher program as "on the right side of this fight." Before that he argues that Norton and others need to justify any action they take to end the voucher program. He's right, they do. But anybody who wants to keep the voucher program also needs to justify their actions. In fact, I think that anybody who takes any position on any issue needs to justify their actions. Let's have a productive discussion instead of resorting to pettiness or knee-jerk reactions to positions you don't like.