What would George, TJ, Abe, Teddy, Ike, and the gang say?


Mount Rushmore
Past presidents might not be too happy with the current state of education.
 Photo by William Andrus.

This is not the time for federal intervention is what they
would say. But I would imagine most of our great presidents would be somewhat
appalled by the barnacled bureaucracy that now counts as our public education
system. I would love to hear what they had to say about these four recent
stories: 

  • Not
    to be missed
    . Scot Simon’s report for National Public Radio on Kansas City’s failed school system is a needed reminder
    about the delusional thinking of those who defend the current American public
    education system. K.C. is part of a long-line—think Detroit, Newark, Chicago,
    New Orleans—of failed city school systems. 
    One simply cannot take the attacks on school reformers seriously when
    seen through the prism of reports like Simons’.
  • Embracing
    Common Core
    .  This is a
    wonderful symposium by Fordham's Ohio team about the meaning of the Common Core and how to
    implement it.  See also Education
    Next’s
    debate on the math part
    of the CCCS.  And, of course,
    always interesting, if somewhat predictable, is Jay
    Greene’s take
    : here come the commies. 
  • You
    want to know where we went wrong?
    You need go no farther than Valerie Strauss’s bizarre “seven myths about
    how students learn.”  First myth:
    “Basic Facts Come Before Deep Learning.” 
    This piece should be read and studied as the seven reasons American
    schools are in such distress.  Even
    the normally temperate Joanne Jacobs
    takes a few good swipes at Strauss. 
  • Remaking
    federalism
    . Though this essay by Bruce Katz at Brookings is about remaking
    the American economy, it has some lessons for our education governance
    folks. “Given global competition,
    the next president should adopt a vision of collaborative federalism,” writes
    Katz.  Though not as sensible as Koret’s
    recent suggestions
    or Checker and Mike’s “too manycooks, too many kitchens” take, I like Katz’s suggestion that “states and
    metropolitan areas innovate where they should to design and implement bottom-up
    economic [education?] strategies that fully align with their distinctive
    competitive assets and advantages…” 

P.S. And a tantalizing excerpt from Jefferson’s first inaugural address that
may provide some orienting purpose in these times: 

[E]very difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.
We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all
Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to
dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand
undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be
tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some
honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this
Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide
of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free
and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's
best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I
believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it
the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard
of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal
concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government
of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we
found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this
question.

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