This post is the first of a two-part series.
Recently, one of my favorite bloggers shared a reflection on the challenges of education reports. He argued that anytime education is in the publication’s title of the journal, you can count on there being an uncritical, fairly simplified review of the topic at hand.
Aside from critically questioning the victory reports coming out of New Orleans (at this point, I can only appreciate the questions as I have not done my own investigation to take a position), he makes two specific points that made me sit up straighter to pay attention to the read.
The first one was that there is a “need to have a nuanced and complicated examination of both public and charter schools.” And the second one was a question regarding the degree in which a loss in “democratic oversight” should be publically supported in exchange for “somewhat higher test scores.”
A day before Thomas’s piece was published, I had been added to a Twitter conversation about the worth/toxicities (depending on what side of the argument one was positioned) of charter schools. Apart from being annoyed that I was added to this conversation (instead of being engaged in it), I found myself frustrated as I was watched the exchange.
Each side both tried to argue what was good for black children. And while they each brought out relevant points, they failed to recognize valid arguments made by the other side. I think you can disagree in whole while recognizing those places that you agree in part. But, as in other cases where I have watched reformers and anti-reformers engage on Twitter, the discussion turned into some type of winner-takes-all competition.
The irony is that if you truly love black children, you would recognize the complexities of the social structure in which they live and learn. You would recognize that the dynamics of that social structure prohibits there being a one-size-fits all, silver bullet solution. Even if you believe that you are more right than wrong in the solution that you are offering, you would feel compelled to consider what the other side has to offer.
Of course, I am biased– coming from the perspective of a critical pedagogue that both supports and challenges traditional public schools and charter public schools. But, I think this request for a deeper dive into the nuanced complexities affecting marginalized learners is quite valid! And, aside from the fact that Twitter’s 140-character format limits any real substantive exchange about these nuanced complexities, there are those that seem hell bent on trying to hash it out through this social media. And, they seem to avoid all together some essential considerations that are absolutely necessary when probing what is good or bad for marginalized children and the communities in which they live.
So in the absence of being able to engage thoughtfully with both sides to identify those places where there is agreement, I try to abstain. Unless I can have a meaningful offline conversation, I try hard not to get pulled into debate.
But, after reading Thomas’s piece on the need to do a deeper dive into the nuanced complexities facing today’s learner, I feel challenged to offer my opinion no matter how un-sexy a more critical review of both sides may be. In part two of this piece, I want to explain why I agree with both reformers and anti-reformers and why I find myself often times disagreeing with each side as well.
Please stay tuned as I will come back to take Thomas up on his challenge for a deeper dive.