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‘The Best and Worst of 2010,’ So They Say!

“Hold on to your hats” because the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force has just released its top 5 in the Best and Worst Education Events of 2010 categories. The Hoover Institution, which calls itself a “public policy research center,” claims that eleven education experts “pored over the year’s key events, deliberating, arguing, voting, and finally rendering a verdict.” They drew up lists to “illustrate the hits and misses, the glory and the folly of contemporary American school reform.”

It’s abundantly fair to conclude that the experts were stacked on one side of the national educational agenda: the side that is hostile to teacher unions, district as opposed to charter charter schools, shared-decision making,  reasonable professional autonomy in the classroom, academic free speech, enlightened restraints on standardized testing, class size limits, seniority, tenure and pension rights, etc.

A diligent inquiry into positions that the Hoover Institution, though based at venerable Stanford University, has taken, will reveal an unmistakable, undeniable, and uninterrupted ideological pattern concerning public education. The task force chairman was Chester E. Finn Jr., a five-star general in the fight against practically (I say “practically” just to hedge my bets and appear balanced) all that we as unionists believe in.

Here is the task force’s list of the top 3 among their 5 “best education events of 2010″:

  1. Release of high-profile movies that illuminate America’s education crisis and failure, especially Waiting for Superman, as well as The Lottery and The Cartel.
  2. Los Angeles Times publishes teacher evaluations based on test scores.
  3. Ratification of the Washington, D.C. teachers’ union contract.

And the top 3 among their 5 “worst education events of 2010″ :

  1. Stimulus dollars for education were mainly spent on avoiding layoffs.
  2. Adrian Fenty lost the D.C. mayoral primary, followed by the departure of schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.
  3. Governor Charlie Crist’s veto of the Florida tenure reform bill.

The task force’s judgments are in lockstep with the biases of our other foes. Some are academics and others are street fighters, but we must acknowledge and engage them all. Polite argument is not likely to win them over, but we must not shrink from debate anyway.

Their salesmanship of lies too often beguiles a public victimized yet charmed by corporate propagandists. The combat they wage against us takes many forms and we must learn to be at home with all of them. We will win nothing unless we are willing to risk a great deal. But “timing is everything.” Holding fire is not the same as retreat.

Despite all the hostile and sometimes “friendly fire,” we must always at every stage seek common ground without sacrificing our core principles. Let’s try to rehabilitate our adversaries and friends in the think tanks, focus groups, and task forces and beyond.

But we must never let down our guard or forget the pepper spray.

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