The Educator Roundtable - doomed to fail
They’re going to fail.
While I disagree with their reasoning and goals, their inevitable failure has nothing to do with either of those. We could argue back and forth, point/counterpoint, and it wouldn’t change the fact that they have no chance whatsoever of succeeding in their mission.
The reason has nothing to do with their message; it has everything to do with human nature. The simple fact is that, for people to achieve great things (however they define them), they have to move towards something, not away from something.
And that’s the problem with The Educator Roundtable’s fight to dismantle NCLB: they want to move away from something, but offer nothing to replace it.
From their petition:
We, the educators, parents, and concerned citizens whose names appear below, reject the misnamed No Child Left Behind Act and call for legislators to vote against its reauthorization. We do so not because we resist accountability, but because the law's simplistic approach to education reform wastes student potential, undermines public education, and threatens the future of our democracy.
Below, briefly stated, are some of the reasons we consider the law too destructive to salvage. In its place we call for formal, state-level dialogues led by working educators rather than by politicians, ideology-bound "think tank" members, or leaders of business and industry who have little or no direct experience in the field of education.
Their vision – what we get if we successfully overturn NCLB – is that they’ll hold formal, state-level dialogues led by working educators. Let that sink in for a minute.
What they’re saying is that they have no plan at all – one can only assume that we’ll go back to the ways things were before NCLB and sit tight, awaiting further instructions. But assumptions aren’t visions, and state-level dialogues aren’t going to inspire anybody.
Our forefathers overthrew British rule, but it wasn’t simply because they didn’t like being oppressed; there have been, and always will be, plenty of oppressed people who put up with being ruled unfairly. What got them to act was the promise of something better: the vision of independent democratic self-rule. They almost certainly would not have revolted if they had not had a better option clearly in mind. They risked everything to move toward something, not just away from something.
When the Russians leapt ahead in the space race with the Sputnik program, John F. Kennedy inspired the country by promising to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He didn’t motivate the dispirited masses by promising to fight technological obsolescence; he helped the country move toward a great accomplishment, not away from doom.
Other people spoke out against segregation, but it wasn’t until Martin Luther King Jr. painted a picture of a better world that people bought in and forced change, often at great personal cost.
Once The Educator Roundtable can give us a compelling picture of a world without NCLB – one that all of education’s stakeholders, not just teachers, can buy into – then they’ll have a fighting chance. Until then, their efforts are futile.