Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thanks to General Diane Ravitch for the Shout Out on Preaching to the Choir

Is Diane Ravitch the George Washington of the educational revolutionary wars? Can we call it World War D (for Deform)? Can we get Max Brooks to write that story?

As I would expect Diane Ravitch took the point I was trying to make in my column this week in The Wave about and extended it to a place I myself wasn't clear about. Preaching to the choir is very needed - to keep up the morale of the troops on the front line facing a firing line from all sides -- including their own union. And rallying them to action. Diane Ravitch has become the general leading the charge into the fire. Teachers, parents and even students are responding. Today's MORE meeting attracted such a crowd of 70 people. And NYCORE last night also attracted 70 --- and a very different 70. And Change the Stakes meeting at the same time had a smaller group with verve and vigor. MORE on the growing activism later.
Norm Scott is the quintessential education activist. He is a retired teacher with many years of classroom experience in tough schools. He brooks no nonsense.

In this review of Reign of Error, he asks the question: What is wrong with preaching to the choir?

He is right. When everyone else–the media, the pundits, the big foundations, the politicians–are agreed that the choir stinks, even though the choir is doing a fine job, the choir needs to hear some preaching. Some people think we can run schools well with novices who come and go every two years. They are wrong. Some people think that schools should be profit-making opportunities for canny entrepreneurs. They are wrong.

Norm knows: The choir needs some help. They need support. Nothing wrong with preaching to them when everyone is disparaging their work, especially when the critics can’t sing. Not even one note.

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