Dailies Demonize Progressive Education

Education author Alfie Kohn’s got a beef (Nation, 12/10/08) with corporate news coverage of Barack Obama’s choices for his cabinet, where “progressives are in short supply”:

When he turns his attention to the Education Department, what are the chances he’ll choose someone who is educationally progressive?

In fact, just such a person is said to be in the running and, perhaps for that very reason, has been singled out for scorn in Washington Post and Chicago Tribune editorials, a New York Times column by David Brooks and a New Republic article, all published almost simultaneously this month.

Depressingly predictable is the “eerily similar language” in these pieces urging rejection of Stanford educator Linda Darling-Hammond for fear she is “allied with the teachers’ unions” and an opponent of “reform”–defined as “a heavy reliance on fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests,” “a behaviorist model of motivation” and “a corporate sensibility.”
(Kohn points out that the educational model promoted by “reformers” is “already pervasive, which means ‘reform’ actually signals more of the same–or, perhaps, intensification of the status quo.”)

Darling-Hammond is not a “reformer,” Kohn writes, since she argues that “experiments with high-stakes testing have mostly served to increase the dropout rate,” and that “all the talk of ‘rigor’ and ‘raising the bar’ has produced sterile, scripted curriculums that have been imposed disproportionately on children of color.”

See the FAIR Media Advisory: “Media Cheer for ‘Non-Ideological’ Centrists” (11/26/08)