Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Editor's Page - Bring on the Pachyderms

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Editor's Page - Bring on the Pachyderms

Article excerpt

WHILE channel-surfing some weeks ago, I happened on J. D. Salinger's daughter, Margaret, discussing her recently released memoir, Dream Catcher. In that book, she talks about her difficult childhood, in which the problems - "like elephants in the living room" - were unmistakably present, though largely ignored.

As I listened to her, it struck me that education has for many years now had its own elephants in the living room: the politicians and the corporate CEOs who have been calling the shots. We educators have gone about our business as best we could, coping with the plethora of "higher standards" and their accompanying "systems of accountability" (largely standardized tests) laid upon us by government and industry. And we've politely said little.

In his guest editorial in the September issue, Lowell Rose broke the silence by pointing out that "leadership for the current school improvement effort comes not so much from educators as from the political arena, with significant input from the business community." And, Rose added, the latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll findings "suggest that public support for current actions is lacking."

This month's Kappan examines the corporate/political takeover of education from a variety of perspectives. First, Daniel Tanner provides some history that helps to explain how we got into this mess. Among the important points he makes is that "inherent in the business/efficiency/managerial model of education is the arrogant dismissal of the crucial differences between the learner as a growing, developing organism and the end products of industry."

Next comes George Kaplan, whose Special Report takes a close look at education's pressure groups. …

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