Sunday, March 22, 2009
A Ground Zero for Kristof on Education Knowledge
Update: A Teacher Responds to Latest Kristof Ed Column posted at Norm's Notes.
One of the major problems with the poor quality of American journalism is the lack of quality journalists. Perhaps they should get merit pay or demerit pay based on the quality of the columns they produce. Today we have another in a long line of low-level, almost amateurish columns on education in the NY Times from Nicolas Kristof. He can write all the great stuff about Darfur or wherever, but when someone can get education so wrong, I can't stomach anything he writes.
Queens HS chapter leader and member of ICE Michael Fiorillo responds.
I've never been a fan of Kristof: there's often more than a whiff of moral vanity in his tone that turns me off. But this column shows him to be a fool or a knave.
Parroting the corporate ed reform talking point that nothing - not low birth weight, poor pre-natal care, poor nutrition, personal or family medical conditions, unstable family and housing situations, unemployment and on the furthest end of the spectrum substance abuse and incarceration - matters except effective teachers for student success, he writes,
"One study suggests that if black kids could get teachers from the(teaching) profession's most effective quartile for four years in a row, the achievement gap would disappear."
Do these people actually believe this nonsense?
How exactly is this panacea supposed to be implemented?
Fire every teacher below the 75 quartile, and move all the kids into the top producers's classrooms?
Keep firing the "low-performers" and just keep hiring TFA missionaries until you've reached 100% of your staff functioning in the 75 percentile or above?
Isn't there a problem with the math here?
Please also notice the extreme patronization - a key feature of the outlook, rhetoric and "pedagogy" of corporate ed reformers - in Kristof's language: why is it "black kids," who are singled out?
This elision of other poor children who also suffer from the "achievement gap" (also a term of art developed to pile drive the premises of the debate into unfriendly terrain for teachers and their unions, walling off discussion of other factors that influence school "performance") reveals the targeting of African-American communities for internal competition for diminishing resources among charter and public schools. This is now happening across the city, as Bloomberg's minions bus in charter school parents to public hearings to support mayoral control and the real estate grabs that are a part of it.
What these people are doing is despicable, creating a separate and unequal system in the name of racial justice.
Kristof's column: Education’s Ground Zero