Should Politicians Learn Education, Or Should Educators Learn Politics?

In today's Washington Post, Jay Mathews sneaks over to the political beat and sounds off about mistakes elected officials make when it comes to education: "It bothers me that the politicians and campaign consultants who do these commercials promote the same myths about schools, election after election after election," writes Mathews (Seven Ways Politicians Are Dumb About Schools). "Their messages distort our thinking about education and make it harder to raise student achievement."

As usual, I agree with most of what Mr. Mathews has to say, but I'd argue that it's just as important for educators and journalists to understand politics, not the other way around. The system's not going to change just because it's wrong.

I'd also argue that some things, like retaining students, may have benefits for the students and parents and teachers who are motivated to work harder that, sad to say, eclipse or at least equal the drawbacks of holding a small set of kids back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that educators can learn politics - and I think there are many qualities of teachers in the classroom that are preferred qualities of a politician. I would like to see more educators run for office, as that is really the only way that good education policy will be made.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point Mathews get completely wrong is the one about teaching to the test (Mathews doesn't see any problem with it). Teaching to the test is a sign that an assessment system isn't working. Either the test is so disconnected from the curriculum that I'm afraid teaching the curriculum won't adequately prepare my students for the test, or the sanctions are so severe that my students' scores on the test are all that matters. He must not have been in a school where true teaching to the test--stop everything and drill students on the items we think might be on the test, even if they're out of context or clearly trivial--is taking place.

8:06 PM  

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