Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Modeling "the best" at Stand for Children?

Stand for Children is widely acknowledged as an organization that consistently takes stands at odds with the the public school teachers who serve our children. They are a major player in the school reform movement, and the Tennessee branch sat silently by last September when the state education commissioner Kevin Huffman punitively defunded Metro Schools. But they have never missed a beat hammering away at teacher performance as the cause of poor student outcomes while ignoring the socio-economic conditions at home that crush opportunities for children.

Stand for Children Tennessee blogged a post today hailing Commissioner Huffman's plan to lash licensure to perceived performance. For the time being I'll set aside the questions of judging teacher performance without reference to causal factors outside the classroom and of forcing educational missions into business-oriented frameworks for which reformers like Huffman have a knack.

What caught my eye in the SFC policy analyst's blog post were several grammatical errors that did not themselves embody excellence.


I try not to pick on people about grammar. Goodness knows, I make my own mistakes on that score. But when education reformers with reputations for attacking teachers in general and teachers unions in particular mar their own writing with grammatical mistakes (even as they presume to prompt teachers on how to be "shining examples" and "the best and brightest"), I am bound to point out the hypocrisy. If you demand modeling "the best" for our kids, then you better set an example yourself in your written demand.

There were other problems beyond an errant misspelling in the blog post. How about a glaring sentence fragment in the original?

The Department has recommended that several changes be made to the teacher licensure structure to not only streamline the system, but raise the standards in the teaching profession. These changes hope to ensure that obtaining a teacher license

[sic] Currently, the system for licensing teachers has a few flaws.

Again, I do not usually play the grammar monitor. I tend to prefer to be charitable about such errors because I understand blogging is sometimes a difficult activity. And frankly, debating ideas is more interesting to me that grousing over grammar.

My criticism is ultimately not about correct grammar, it is about the holes in Stand for Children's agenda: I cannot let slip the poor paradoxes of purist organizations that claim to demand excellence from people, many of whom are dedicated to serving our children even under impossible conditions.

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