Saturday, October 10, 2015

Civility in our education debates

Dmitri Mehlhorn reveals the hypocrisy of those calling for civility in our education debates – but then throw mud:

in education policy, although some genuinely seek productive discourse, calls for civility often serve as cover for nasty personal attacks.

…The problem is that Ravitch has violated these norms so egregiously that her calls for civility look a lot like Vladimir Putin's calls for peace—a hypocritical smokescreen rather than a genuine plea. While Ravitch was attacking Rhee for lack of civility, she was receiving financial payments from the teachers unions that were funding a secret campaign to personally demonize Michelle Rhee.

…In 2013, journalist Campbell Brown launched a campaign to reform New York's teacher tenure and seniority laws. Ravitch was the leading voice of a union-backed effort to dismiss Brown as a clueless celebrity trading only on her looks. The unions openly funded a campaign to mock Brown's appearance, autonomy, credibility and family relationships. As recently as this weekend, the New York state teacher's union organized a protest against Brown.

Ravitch justified her attacks on Brown by saying that celebrities without personal experience should not have a voice in education reform. This, however, was mendacious. Two years earlier, Ravitch praised actor and prominent reform opponent Matt Damon as a "true American hero" when he introduced her at a major speech. Unlike Campbell Brown, Matt Damon has no experience as a journalist or a teacher, and, like Ravitch, he declined to send his own children to public schools.

Let's be realistic about civility in education politics.

Civility is a high priority, but truthfulness and integrity are even higher.

When the call for civility is used to cover up efforts to weaken policies that help children then it's really hypocrisy and it must be challenged.

As the old saying goes, when you ride into town on a white horse, the mud really shows.

Let's Get Real About Civility in the Education Debate

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