May 29, 2020

A school house divided

Michael Petrilli has made an interesting observation about the “narrowcasting” of views in the education reform debate. Using Twitter followers as an example of select media consumption by the ideologically driven he found that just 10% of Michelle Rhee’s and Diane Ravitch’s 75,000 combined subscribers follow both of them. After a slight admission of the unscientific nature of his test Petrilli suggests the public seek comfortable echoes of information that confirm their prejudices rather than challenge their thinking.

Of all people banging gongs in our national debate about how to improve public schools, no two people are more prone to caricature in the extreme than Rhee and Ravitch. Both battle axes speak with a certainty and self-righteousness once reserved for individuals having parted seas or healed withering hands. Both have crusading affects that betray epic struggles for some monumentally important human goal.

For Rhee, it is to save millions of children who are doomed by schools that do not work.

For Ravitch, it is to save schools and their teachers from people that want to save millions of children who are doomed by schools that do not work.

In the middle of this 100 years war are children; of color, poor, and objectified. The most fitting historic duality to frame the Rhee-Ravitch bifurcation is not oil and water, smoke and fire, or cheese and Cheez Wiz.

It is Union and Confederate. North and South. Abolition and property rights.

Of the two, which do you think I support?

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