Monday, June 16, 2008

David Brooks and the Status Quo at the NY Times

I've been thinking about how to address David Brooks' ridiculous op ed in Friday's NY Times on education where if you don't agree with the likes of Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Andrew Rotherham and, best of all, Al Sharpton (read all about his extortion racket,) you are labeled a status quoer. On first look, I thought it was a Tweed press release. Well, now that I think about it, it read a lot like Tweed PR chief David Cantor.

NYC Educator's brilliant piece today pretty much nails Brooks, who ought to visit the lovely trailer NYC teaches in, but I want to add a few points.

Brooks focuses on where Obama will go on ed policy. Brooks puts him between the regressive ed reformers and the progressive ed reformers whom the RER zombies are branding as "status quoers." NYC Educator focuses on the fact that none of the so-called regressive ed reforms seem to have worked, but Brooks wants to continue to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic anyway.

In his own fit of rhetorical gibberish, Brooks refers to the "patina of postpartisan rhetoric" as he writes about the competing vision of the Progressive Ed Reform Movement (PERM):

The status quo camp issued a statement organized by the Economic Policy Institute. This report argues that poverty and broad social factors drive high dropout rates and other bad outcomes. Schools alone can’t combat that, so more money should go to health care programs, anti-poverty initiatives and after-school and pre-K programs. When it comes to improving schools, the essential message is that we need to spend more on what we’re already doing: smaller class sizes, better instruction, better teacher training.

Does Brooks really believe we're spending more on smaller class size? Maybe in the private schools his friends attend. What does he think about the fact that the class sizes in NYC are 25%-35% higher than the rest of the state? Who really supports the status quo, people like Brooks or the PERMs? Brooks and the RER's are really about busting teacher unions. Lucky for them they have a compliant AFT/UFT that is frightened of being branded as SQ's to deal with.

Brooks says, "the crucial issues are: What do you do with teachers and administrators who are failing? How rigorously do you enforce accountability? Tough decisions have to be made about who belongs in the classroom and who doesn’t. Parents have to be given more control over education through public charter schools. Teacher contracts and state policies that keep ineffective teachers in the classroom need to be revised.

What irony. Has he seen how parents in NYC have less control over their schools than ever as regressive ed reformers use mayoral dictatorships to hand entire urban public school system over to Bill Gates and Eli Broad, while Brooks' friends in the suburbs actually get to elect school boards and vote on budgets?

What to do with reporters and editors who are failing?
Who belongs in the NY Times newsroom?

As NYC Educator points out, Brooks and the NY Times were vigorous war hawks and don't seem to worry about accountability and failures when it came to their own promotion of the weapons of mass destruction and general coverage of the Iraq war.

And then there's the issue of how a trillion dollars can appear out of nowhere, but those who call for even a fraction of that expenditure to lower class size are branded status quoers.

Let David Brooks take a look at the failure of the NY Times, not only in relation to Iraq, but in the biased coverage of education in NYC. True accountability starts at home.

Check out this review of Susan Ohanian's new book for some sanity.


  1. What is with these programmed responses and phrases like "status quo," which are used over and over again?
    Do they sit around and pick a phrase to bombard people with?

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Norm. I'm glad that folks like Brooks write this stuff--it's a strong indication about where the "reform" agenda really comes from and who it will benefit.


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