Why You Can’t Reason With School Reformers- You Have to Bring the Machine to a Halt

Yesterday, during some fierce twitter debates I was having with Charter School Advocates one of them replied ” the majority of American teachers graduated in the bottom 1/3 of their college class.” To them, this provided the justification for erasing teacher voices from education debates. This is a perfect example of the mindset of those shaping current education policy. Because they have convinced themselves that American students have failed relative to their international counterparts- based on similarly misleading statistics- and that most teachers are incompetent, they have prescribed a complete makeover of the US Education system from the top down in which everything that happens in a classroom is scripted and controlled from pre-school on up.
And here is the problem. When you have constructed a Narrative of Failure from broad statistical comparisons, testimony based on personal experience becomes irrelevant. All you have to do is meet with Arne Ducan or NY Education Commissioner John King, either in person, or in a public meeting, to realize that they don’t listen to a word you, or anyone else says, no matter how eloquent. Children, parents and teachers can get up and speak their heart outs about how current policies are snuffing out creativity and joy, humiliating students, and driving the best teachers out of the profession. They don’t care. They use a closed, circular logic to justify their policies that is immune to complaints of collateral damage that do not take statistical form. The Data Driven Universe they are silences criticism- literally. They will continue doing what they are doing no matter how bad people say it is.
Faced with this way of thinking, we have only one way of changing policy. Bring the machine to a halt. Stop taking their tests. Stop administering them. And vote everyone who supports administering the tests and sharing the Data they generate out of office.
You cannot reason with people who think this way. Your voice doesn’t count. Your experience means nothing to them But your votes count. Your campaign contributions count. And your power to stop the Test Machine scares the crap out of them because without Test results, their precious Data — which is the fuel for their Ship of Fools- disappears.