Diane Ravitch, Sol Stern and others have criticized Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein for putting all their eggs into the “choice” basket.
Frankly, there is merit to some of what they say – choice alone is not going to get it done. You need standards and accountability, including great curriculum frameworks and teacher testing, AND you need choice and the development of new supply (charters, pilots, METCO, university partnership schools, voc-tech schools and more).
But the fact of the matter is, the unions will fight standards and accountability every step of the way. The proof of that is in the fact that where union strength is most entrenched in Massachusetts – in the urban centers – standards and accountability have not been implemented. See Jamie Gass’ research on that HERE and also HERE.
And then if you don’t have significant choice, the unions will turn back the clock on any standards and accountability you put into place. That, my friends, is what is happening in Massachusetts right now.
These are the lessons of Edmonton, Canada – a school system 20,000+ students larger than Boston’s – where standards, accountability and choice have all been part of the recipe of their success. There choice plays the additional role of pushing innovation systemwide – like charters here, but it is district-wide choice, so all kids benefit from it.
So, hats off to choice and to Whitney Tilson (an Obama supporter) who sent along this link to Klein’s speech. I wish Massachusetts had this kind of education leadership. It would take us even farther faster. Whatever you think of the Learn, Earn, Win! program (prep sessions for six AP exams), Klein & Co. are five cuts above the leadership we currently have.
View it on YouTube HERE.