The Winter 2011-2012 edition of American Educator (http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/index.cfm), professional magazine of the American Federation of Teachers, offers some clarifying commentaries on what is going awry these days in educational policy and politics. Everyone involved in public education should read “The Cult of Success” by Diana Senechal and “Bipartisan, But Unfounded: The Assault on Teachers’ Unions” by Richard D. Kahlenberg. In combination, the two pieces add up to a portrait you will recognize of unproductive policy and destructive politics doing serious damage to our public schools.
Here’s a preview of Senechal’s argument: Over the past few decades, success has too often been defined as whatever we can see and measure, be it individual wealth or corporate profits, school test scores or student rankings, Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Senechal writes: “In research studies, newspaper articles, and general education discussions, there is far more talk of achievement than of the actual stuff that gets achieved.” Such talk has resulted in a cult of success that, in its preoccupation with image, money, and power, has distorted what it really means to succeed. Read More