Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kristoff on Experts

There was a most interesting Op-ed by Nicholas Kristoff in the Times. If you haven't read it, Kristoff claims that pundits should be held accountable for their words. He was referring to financial experts, but it seems to be his words could apply to his stance on education, as well. For example, Kristoff says:

" experts turn out to be, in many situations, a stunningly poor source of expertise."

Amen. So called experts Klein, Rhee, and Gates are prime examples. Kristoff goes on to say:

"...let’s acknowledge that even very smart people allow themselves to be buffaloed by an apparent “expert” on occasion. "

Amen and amen. Kristoff has bought the "expert opinions" on education reform hook, line, and sinker.

He does allow comments on his blog, in case you want to let him know how you feel. I already left mine. You can read it below. Let's see it it gets published:

I think you're a very intelligent fellow, Mr. Kristoff, and I also believe that you yourself have been buffaloed by the 'experts' who dominate the education world. I refer mostly to those so called experts, such as Joel Klein, Bill Gates, and Michelle Rhee, who have extremely limited experience in education but who have appointed themselves its saviors nevertheless.

You seem to have bought into their dogma that testing students is an acceptable alternative to educating them. When it comes to charter schools, you've bought the entire package even though charters have never been shown to work on a large scale and only work on a small scale because they rob public schools of resources and take the cream of whatever population they serve. You also seem to have been buffaloed into believing that improving teacher quality, whatever that means, will solve all our problems. In fact, most teachers are already of extremely high quality and it is insulting to imply otherwise. Absolutely no responsibility is laid at the feet of parents, communities, administration, or the inane curriculum instituted by the Joel Kleins of the world.

Rather than focus on the educational fix du jour, you would do well to focus on the few things that would actually improve public education: enforcing discipline, implementing a back to basics curriculum that eliminates all the popular educational gimmicks, reducing class sizes to reasonable levels, and paying teachers more. While were at it, we should begin making teachers partners in improving education rather than making them scapegoats.

So, I implore you to take your own advice. Stop listening to all the self-proclaimed 'experts'--the billionaires, talking heads and politicians who spout education jargon because they know nothing else. Listen to teachers--we're the quiet experts who know what needs to be done, and who are chomping at the bit to do it if given a fighting chance.


Anonymous said...

This is just what I needed to read. Goodness. The last line -"We're the quiet experts who know what needs to be done, and who are chomping at the bit to do it if given a fighting chance." So good. I'm chomping alright. High-fives and a big thumbs up for you my friend. I pray it gets publshed.

Anonymous said...

Really good response.