Saturday, June 15, 2013
On June 7, 2013, I participated in a HuffPost Live segment called, "Get Rich Quick With Education Reform." Two articles that are critical of school reform, notably, charter schools, standardized testing and increasing attention on teacher accountability, inspired the segment (see below). I was one of four panelists on the segment, and the only academic. Two of the panelists are writers for online magazines and the fourth panelist is a parent in New Orleans. The experience was interesting. From my perspective, the general discourse about school reform lacks important nuance and complexity and ignores larger structural issues. In other words, it is far easier to blame student underachievement solely on teachers rather than consider the impact of inequities relative to resources and mandatory standardized testing as a measurement of student learning and teacher effectiveness. During the segment, one of the panelists who were critical of the reform, especially charter schools and teacher accountability, raised poverty as a significant factor in student learning. While research suggests that poverty (among other factors) significantly impacts student achievement, this correlation fails to contextualize how poverty impacts student learning and achievement. Thus, while the segment was ostensibly about the profit motive of school reform, the discussion focused mainly on the claims made by reformers to justify reform policies that call for more testing, testing preparation, and teacher accountability, rather than the relationship between these three reforms and growing education market.