by ALISTAIR BOMPHRAY
We’re going to begin today with a visualization exercise. Now close your eyes. Wait—that won’t work. Read along instead and just pretend your eyes are closed. Sort of like a visualization within a visualization. A dream within a dream. An acid flashback… you know what I’m talking about.
You wake up. You rub your eyes as the familiar shapes of your bedroom come into focus. Everything is as you left it. Your teacher clothes, so dutifully laid out the night before, are practically beckoning for you to begin the day. The alarm clock reads 6:15, the same time you wake up every school day. The birds sing outside your window as always. But something feels… different.
You go to the sink, splash some water on your face, load your toothbrush with a wedge of Crest (enough to disguise last night’s whiskey binge), and look into the mirror. Gasp. You drop the toothbrush and let out another gasp as it lands in a pile of your roommate’s beard trimmings. Back to the mirror. Your initial shock dampened somewhat by the thought of your roommates’s beard hairs stuck between your teeth, you refrain from gasping a third time. Instead of your own familiar reflection, you see a 6’5’’ lanky white dude’s with skeletal cheeks and a formidable hook shot… who also happens to look a lot like President Obama’s recently appointed Secretary of Education.
Oh yeah—and in the pocket of your bathrobe is a check for $100 billion that reads ‘Pay to the Order of… Fixin’ Dem Schools!’
What do you do?
This is precisely the scenario Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews presented to his readers two days ago, albeit in less colorful and more direct language. First, he offers a brief and generally favorable analysis of this list of suggestions (sponsored by the Gates Foundation) for the education portion of the federal stimulus package:
1. develop common American standards
2. provide data and information that educators, policymakers, and parents can use
3. conduct meaningful teacher evaluations
4. turn around low-performing schools
5. help struggling students
Not one to merely sit back and criticize, Mathews boldly concludes with five of his own suggestions, one of which is the deeply frightening, “More training and power for principals.”
Yikes! I think we can do better. I beg of you, dear reader, grace us with the goodness of your own suggestion(s). If you had $100 billion to Fix Dem Schools, what would you do?
Okay, I’ll go first. I want bookrooms updated with a diverse selection of culturally responsive and youth friendly texts—for all disciplines.
The comment box awaits. Who’s next?
[P.S. The first 16 comments are from my students—that all-important stakeholder that is too often left out of conversations like this.]