“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”
EdWeek is continuing to monitor the outpouring of negative feedback received by the federal Department of Education after Secretary Duncan’s letter to teachers last week. (For more explanation, less question, check out Diane Ravitch’s take on the matter.)
A few people have used various means to try to undermine the critiques that have been leveled at Duncan and Co., including the idea that most teachers basically don’t know what’s going on, and the majority of those people have no problem with Duncan’s letter*. To which the always astute Anthony Cody replies:
I am sure the vast majority of the three million plus teachers in America did not read Duncan’s letter and many of them are not following the ins and outs of education policy. But this episode has revealed that among those who ARE following policy, Duncan (and Obama) have some serious problems. The Department can continue to plug its ears or go listen to people who will tell them what they want to hear, but a defense that rests on the premise “the people who are not paying attention don’t feel this way” should not inspire much confidence.
Exactly. As I said in my first letter, I’m glad that more of us are raising our voices, enough to force them to concede that there’s at least enough merit in our critiques to mention them. (A year ago, there was no need to do even that.) But it is still incredibly disturbing that for the most part, the education reform conversation is happening beyond the earshot of most teachers, parents, and students. Here’s to another year of working to make that less true!
For my part, I’m still wondering why the Huffington Post piece, and this one in EdWeek, treat the response to Duncan’s letter like it’s more or less evenly split (emphasis added):
What’s the evidence [that this feedback is unrepresentative of the majority of teachers’ feelings]– that a few teachers within the DOE’s sponsored program (some of whom notably missed the mark in identifying why teachers are upset) are saying something different from the *overwhelming* majority of teachers who bothered to comment? Hmm.
Not saying they’re not entitled to their opinion, but how is that even close to equivalent? How is it possible that reporters are remarking on this like it’s a mixed bag? That’s like calling a 54-6 football game a “close one”. What is going on here?
Seconding Anthony Cody’s comment. If their only solid defense is that the people who aren’t paying attention don’t agree with the outraged crowd, they are in big trouble. Sadly, by extension, that means we are ALL in big trouble.
*I disagree with this. One, there is still no evidence that this is the case. Although many teachers do not closely track policy decisions or the every move of the Education Secretary, most are very aware of the attacks on our profession, and are struggling to find the courage and/or the means to push back while also doing their best for their students and families. And from what I can tell– based on the influx of new letters in my inbox, the so-called “silent majority” is getting much less silent… and they are NOT on Duncan’s side! (I’m doing my best to get back to you. It’s a really busy time in all of my different lives, but you are important to me! Had I two extra hands, no need for sleep, and funding from billionaires so I could pay people to clean my apartment, check my other emails, and otherwise make my life less hectic, I’d respond to you instantly :))