It is clear after reading these articles that there is no one solution to how to fix our schools. While reading Klein and Rhee’s manifesto, many errors seemed apparent to me, which were then addressed in Rothstein’s response to their manifesto. I thought it very ignorant to place the blame of this nation’s failing school system exclusively on teachers. External factors, as outlined in Rothstein’s article, seem to me to be much more important when dealing with how to improve children’s education. He shows that one third of all black children are now in poverty, which is the same fraction that can be attributed to differences in school quality when explaining variation in student achievement (Rothstein). This means that the remaining two-thirds can be attributed to external factors, which includes parents. While higher stress, poorer health, more hunger, and geographic disruption are certainly negative consequences of more children in poverty, I found it surprising that he didn’t include the idea of parents’ educational past as well. If a child’s parents both had positive experiences in school, they are certainly more likely to want their children to have a positive one as well. Conversely, if they did not have a positive experiences, they are likely to not care as much about their child receiving a good education, or succeeding in school at all. Therefore, parents’ attitude toward education is incredibly important for their children.
Klein and Rhee’s proposition for fixing our schools appeared to be a manifesto that wanted to appeal to Obama and his administration. They failed to criticize RTTT; merely saying it “has been the catalyst for more reforms than we have seen in decades” (Klein and Rhee). Instead, they just say that our schools cannot keep up with these reforms, while they should be pointing a finger at these reforms in the first place for hurting our school system. An excess of reform cannot and will not fix our schools, and neither will only attacking teachers. As Gerson argues, the influence of the wealthy posing as “educational reformers” is stronger now under Obama than it was under Bush, when the original abomination of public education reform was signed into existence: NCLB (Gerson 98).
Klein and Rhee’s manifesto is certainly a neoliberal one, which is somewhat scary because they were in such high positions with regard to public schooling. They used privatization, in the form of charter schools, as one option to improve public school. Clearly this means taking funding away from public school, something they should be much more concerned about. Additionally, they want educators to receive monetary benefits if their students are succeeding. Because the only way to judge this success is based on test scores, which we know aren’t beneficial to the students, or the teachers for that matter. It seems to me that none of the options outlined in this article are viable for actually fixing schools. However, Gerson seems to be on the right path, with ideas of mass action and political action, funding for public education, opposing the corporate education reform agenda, among many. Gerson’s article is like a small ray of hope in the despair that is our current educational reform system. This whole class for me has been quite depressing, because it all seems to question whether there really is a way to fix public schools. So far, it does not seem promising.