In the hope that we might work towards a more fruitful and less vicious discussion of education policy in 2014 than we suffered through this past year, here are eight resolutions we might all do well to heed:
8. Let’s resolve to stop assuming that anyone who disagrees about what needs to be done is motivated by malice, ignorance, or a lack of concern for kids.
7. It’d be nice if we’d resolve to stop making excuses for irresponsible parents (regardless of class, race, or income)... and to stop taking responsible parents for granted.
6. Let’s resolve to stop treating pedantic observations as dazzling insights (e.g. hard work and character matter), and then turning them into faddish dogmas that are bound to disappoint before fading away in the face of the next new fad.
5. Let’s resolve to keep in mind that studies around complex phenomena like parental choice, school accountability, or teacher evaluation are ill-equipped to “prove” that policy interventions do or don’t “work”, but that we can learn a lot of useful stuff from them if we dial down the claims and the vitriol.
4. Would-be reformers should resolve to stop suggesting that reading and math scores are a robust measure of student learning or teacher quality (fortunately, I don’t think most believe that)... and self-proclaimed skeptics should resolve to stop suggesting that reading and math scores don’t tell us anything of import about student learning or teacher performance.
3. Let’s resolve to spend less time seesawing back and forth again from shrill declarations that MOOCs are about to transform education to bombastic declarations that MOOCs are yesterday’s news and a massive disappointment.
2. Let’s resolve to stop encouraging any attention-seeking snake oil salesman who has already peddled more than two played out edu-fads in the 21st century.
1. It’d be sweet if our earnest Secretary of Education would resolve to stop asserting that any trace of skepticism regarding the Common Core is evidence of venality, extremism, or neurosis. And with that, it’s on to 2014.
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.