Have Fun Storming the Castle!

Miracle Max & Gilda

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Checker Finn, just returned from a vacation during which he apparently read something about the Constitutional Convention, writes on NRO today that “we need a revolutionary refounding” in education. Reformers should direct their efforts toward scrapping the existing education system entirely and creating a new one from scratch.

Think it’ll work? It would take a miracle.

“Can we afford not to try?” he asks at the end. Well, in fact, yes.

Checker either does or does not want reformers to divert effort and energy away from goals that are more gradual, more incremental – in other words, more achievable. If he does, he’s urging us to sabatoge efforts that achieve significant tangible results, in order to join him on a fool’s errand with no chance of success. If he doesn’t, he’s wasting our time with a lot of pointless hot air.

Unless, of course, the Fordham Institute has a holocaust cloak.

But if it does, why didn’t he list that among their assets in the first place?

3 Responses to Have Fun Storming the Castle!

  1. Geoff Goodman says:

    I tend to agree more with Checker Finn on this one.

    Education reform needs big dreamers. Yes, pragmatists are necessary, but they alone will never bring about large scale change. While tweaks in policy bring about small changes, it is the visionaries’ call for radical change that, when the time is right, will help bring about paradigm shifts in public policy. Both are important.

    Current school choice programs have achieved some measurable academic results, but a simple continuation of these small programs that do not restructure education finance (especially scholarship tax credit programs) will do nothing to bring systemic change to American education.

    We need people to continue to call for radical shifts in the funding of education, the delivery of education, and ultimately the relational power structures that exist in the system (i.e. currently the proper role of parents as having the most authority over their child’s education, has been neutered by the state’s hegemony of the educational sphere).

    • Greg Forster says:

      You’re absolutely right that the goal we want is radical change, and that if we stick with the reforms we have now and do nothing else, we won’t get that result.

      The question is, how do we get the radical change we all want? Checker argues we should try to get radical change all at once in a single, revolutionary burst. I say we should try to get radical change by moving toward that goal a little at a time – making next year’s reforms a little bolder than this year’s, and so forth. Which strategy is more likely to work?

  2. allen says:

    I’m thinking Finn must be paid by the word for his NRO pieces because if it were anymore outrageously padded it would be better used to filled out a Don Knott’s Santa Claus suit then as a call to arms.

    What’s his constituency? Who are the groups that’ll go to battle for his vision? He’d better serve the cause of public education reform by identifying some of the players who have something to material to gain from education reform and not just the pretty good sounding ideas that’ll motivate editorial writers, education pundits and the rare mommy or daddy.

    It’d be worth revisiting the factors that went into the creation of the current system to get an idea of how to pursue the creation of its successor. The people who put this system together had an agenda and not all were starry-eyed proponents of the spiritually uplifting value of education. Some of ’em were angling to use the public education system to help make them richer or more powerful. Folks like the burgeoning labor movement who wanted a way to get all that competitive child labor off the market and their enemies, the evil capitalists who wanted workers both pre-broken to the regimentation of the factory and able to read, write and figger.

    If proponents of public education reform can’t find allies like that then Finn might as well sit at a campfire singing “Kumbaya” because he’s not going to be doing the hard work of changing the public education system.

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