The other day I wrote about the Ed in 08 event I attended in Washington DC last week. Although it was a nice event, I really didn’t get what I expected out of it. I expected more details about their platform.
The Ed in 08 campaign is a plan to get the presidential candidates to talk more about education and create more urgency in American politics for improving education. Their three policy pillars are:
- Higher standards
- More effective teachers
- More time and support for learning
Uh huh, sure – who isn’t for these. But what exactly do these phrases mean? There are a thousand interpretations, and a thousand more implementation ideas.
- It matters a great deal if “higher standards” means “more tests” or “national standards” or “punishing children”. In the printout of the 25 slide PowerPoint they handed out, there is only one bullet point that addresses this, “The next president must lead a national effort to create more common, rigorous standards that are benchmarked to the world’s best performing countries.”
- It matters a great deal if “more effective teachers” means “blowing up schools of education” as one speaker put it, or merit pay, which is another idea that sounds good but always ends up badly, or some other secret agenda. You can’t just wave a magic wand and pretend that effective teachers will appear out of nowhere.
- It matters a great deal if “more time” means more of the same, or if there is some coherent plan to make something different happen in that extra time.
As they say, the devil is in the details, and anyone who has lived and worked in the virtuous-sounding “No Child Left Behind” era knows that slogans and empty platitudes aren’t policy. Judging from the examples most often used at the Blogger Summit, what they are talking about is KIPP Academy. If that’s what they mean, they should just come out and say it.
I don’t understand how Ed in 08 expects people to get on this invisible bandwagon. If they are calling for national standards, or a national test, let’s hear it. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of empty words.