Opinion Blog

Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Keep It Comin’

By Rick Hess — February 18, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Thanks for the warm reception. I’ve received some terrific feedback, both in posted comments and personal e-mails. I’d like to take a moment to encourage readers to share their thoughts and experiences. After all, one of the shortcomings of being a DC think tanker is the remove from classrooms, schools, and districts. In that spirit, I want to highlight a terrific comment posted earlier today by Skeptic Teacher.

First, though, I just want to be sure we’re all clear on one thing. I’m actually in favor of educators and advocates caring about kids. What I’m opposed to is them telling me how much they care about kids. And what I’m really opposed to is them telling me how much they care about kids in order to deflect questions or to dismiss those who disagree with them. (And let’s be clear that the IFTK reflex is widespread. As Eugenia Kemble, Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute, pointed out in a personal communication, it afflicts friends of mine like DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee just as surely as it does those with whom I am more prone to disagree, such as AFT President Weingarten.)

Anyway, I thought Skeptic Teacher elegantly captures the problem with IFTK, writing:

I certainly agree with your thesis that self righteously proclaiming, "It is for the kids" adds nothing to a useful discussion. Around here, the guiltiest parties are in the district office. Every spring, sure as clockwork, they swoop down to pressure the principal, guidance, and, above all, classroom teachers to manufacture credits for endangered seniors, for the obvious purpose of plumping up the graduation rate. Thus, the school district and the superintendent look good in the newspapers when district comparisons are published. When, despite the high risk of retaliation, anyone at the building level questions these interventions in particular cases, we hear the shrill shriek of how it is all for the kids. If we only knew about the horrific hardships in the life of this kid, we would not, for an instant, object to a little extra help. To even suggest that it might be in the best interests of the student (if not the published results of the district) to come back for another term and actually finish their education, is to be instantly branded anti-child."


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.