Are mayors serious about Ed reform?
posted by Tom Patterson
at 4 December, 12:21 PM 0
The Republic letter from Claude Mattox “mayors have right idea on education” caught my eye. I had been unclear from news accounts what the newly formed counsel of mayors plan to do about education, so I was interested in their “idea”. But Mr. Mattox’ letter was nearly idea free! The mayors’ “commitment” to education was said to establish the basis for our “future workforce in job attraction”. Phoenix Mayor Stanton was singled out as a “tireless advocate” for improving state and local education. But there was not the slightest clue precisely what the mayors intend to do with their influence nor even what direction they were heading. It makes a difference because the education wars are tendentious these days and those advocating in the arena have viewpoints that are polar opposites. To put it as fairly as I can, one side argues for strict accountability for improved academic outcomes, no matter where that may lead, well the other side believes our education system is improved by supporting the goals of the teachers unions, such as higher reimbursement, job security, and reduced workloads. We know a lot more about how to educate children then we are able to implement, because reforms are met at every turn by a politically powerful bureaucracy. If the mayors really want to weigh in, that’s great, even though they have limited authority in this particular policy area. But they should think carefully about what they’re getting into. Although politicians like to be seen as “caring” about education, they can do more harm than good if they’re not aware of the stakes and issues involved in promoting academic achievement. Like Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ, they can be game-changers if they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and spend some political capital. Mindlessly following the crowd won’t accomplish much.
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