1.31.2010

The Manufactured Crisis and the Bloomberg of 2010

And by extension, nearly every state that complies with today's popular education repair manual looks foolish. The overwrought cries for charter schools and cessation of waste. The vain belief in the purity of accountability standards. The outcry against the evil unions that ruin public education. Fix this! Fix that!

It looks like there are quite a few things that taken individually, ruin public education. So why is it that by notable measures, today's kids are smarter than their parents were? (Hint: Kids can still get a good education in most public schools.)

"The Manufactured Crisis" was published a few years ago (1995) and has had some time to percolate through the minds of those who cared to read it. Unfortunately, the tone was not conciliatory enough to get the attention of those who most needed it. *cough* Legislators! *cough*

This week at EdWize, Jackie Bennett posted a story with supporting graphics that reflect the current conditions in New York City schools.

I would like to think Berliner and Biddle, the authors of "The Manufactured Crisis" are smiling, but the fact that this is happening despite their pointing out the obvious is probably curdling their satisfaction.

One hopes that the balance of states will look on and learn.

What we see in the graphs may be the beginning of the end for the Reagan era education reform movement. (Not that Clinton and Obama didn't join the race-to-nowhere. Aptly named since it's been a race to nowhere for years.) Unfortunately the fierce "will to destroy" originating in the Reagan Department of Education was wedded to the Democrats' "will to manage" birthing a monster. This isn't a Dorn-style Frankenstein. This monster is more like Mothra because we are likely to see a metamorphosis.

So much for what hasn't happened.

What *has* happened is that a real problem has had time to blossom and bear fruit. The problem is inequality fertilized by fiscal conservative tendencies, a tax rebellion at the local level and a market value crash in housing.

This semester, I'm going to ask my students to do a mashup that shows the distribution of income distribution, household language and schools with low ratings.

Calling all Interactive Design students in room 801. Yeah, you. ;-)