Brill on Nocera
Steve Brill, in response to Joe Nocera's NYT op ed (see last email), wrote me:
It continues to surprise me that people on every side of the education reform issue keep speculating about what my real "take" is on the issue and which "side" I am really on simply because there is material in the book that people on both sides like and don't like. Well, that's because I simply reported what I saw. And what I saw was a public education system that is completely broken and that has been taken over by teachers' unions who have succeeded in making America's most important and largest workplace – the K-12 classroom – the only workplace (other than the CEO suites of many Fortune 1000 companies) where performance doesn't count.
But I also saw that crushing the unions will not be enough to turn around the large portion of America's 95,000 schools that need to be fixed. Whether those overhauled schools are called charters or not, is not the issue. The issue is finding, training, motivating, and keeping multiples of the heroic teachers now performing miracles in the nation's effective charter schools.
Like many people, Joe continues to think it's an either/or proposition – charters or public schools. The issue is creating a whole new army of talent, and if the unions want to help instead of stand in the way, the reformers should accept their help, while not being lured by the kind of rhetoric and empty promises that I saw in New York's comic Race to the Top application.