The following are some key quotes from the article:
While I had to make many structural changes–overhauling the system for evaluating teachers and principals, adopting new reading and math programs, making sure textbooks got delivered on time–I believed the hardest thing would be changing the culture.
As it is with any organization. Let’s see if we can flesh out more specifically, what is this nebulous “culture.”
Tenure allows many teachers to hold an attitude of entitlement rather than a sense of mission.
The distance between adult culture and youth culture lends itself to a negative view of youth in general and low expectations of who they are and what they can accomplish (a thread in the fabric of our whole society).
Money = power. So, wherever the money is coming from, that is often the most powerful voice. Since kids don’t provide any resources (they’re the resource recipients, not contributors), they get the last word.
Also, is education seen as a means or an ends of our society. If it is a means towards a better society, then support more easily follows. If it is seen as an ends–a place where people end up for a job, or a product that we are producing–then an entirely different set of values will drive decisions.
The children in our schools today will be the first generation of Americans who will be less educated than the previous generation.
While this may be true, and I concur that this is of great concern, I personally hesitant at rhetoric like this as an argument. First, it has the feel of an emotional tactic (which is often very needed, actually), and second, in a quick thought experiment, even if this statement wasn’t true, any neglect of our kids’ education to cause us concern. Our driving motives must be understood as a higher ideal. Charts, graphs, statistics, etc., while important to the issue are only there to inform our already held convictions regarding the primacy of education in our society.
…there is no big organized interest group that defends and promotes the interests of children.
This is surprising and disappointing. And, brilliant on Rhee’s part. It does take adults to advocate for children. This is, in my humble opinion, a justice issue.
Go to any public-school-board meeting in the country and you’ll rarely hear the words “children,” “students,” or “kids” uttered. Instead, the focus remains on what jobs, contracts, and departments are getting which cuts additions, or changes. The rationale for the decisions mostly rests on which grown-ups will be affected, instead of what will benefit or harm children.
Which is to give thanks and praise to those teachers and administrators who do advocate for children from within the system. So, if you know of any school, any teacher, any administrator that keeps it all about the kids in the bureaucracy, thank them, honor them, and hold them up as models for our society.
Our mission is to defend and promote the interests of children so that America has the best education system in the world.
There’s nothing more worthwhile than fighting for children. And I’m not done fighting.