Without decisive action taken to improve our nation’s public schools,
the American dream will fade into a “distant, elusive memory.” These
hard-hitting words end the “letter to America” issued Sunday by sixteen
large-district leaders, hailing from the North, South, and Midwest, from
red and from blue states. It may not be revolutionary; the supes’
recommendations—focused on teacher quality—aren’t necessarily new ideas.
(Among them: End the “glacial process for removing an incompetent
teacher,” and give parents a better portfolio of schools from which to
choose.) And the push for giving district leaders (i.e. the authors)
more control to reach these goals isn’t subtle. But the tone and message
are commendable in more ways than one. The piece doesn’t rival King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail,
but it’s hard not to appreciate the spirit through which the signing
leaders came together and willingly denounced the system’s many
failings. This pronouncement took a bit of courage, too, though perhaps
there’s some safety in numbers.
“How to Fix our Schools: A Manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and Other Education Leaders,” by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and others, Washington Post, October 10, 2010.