Education Nation: So Let Me Get This Right The First Time

Jose Vilson Education, Jose


Let me get this straight: If I put a cabal of pseudo-educational leaders together in one small panel and parade them around different shows and news outlets, start up conversation pages but prevent all voices to participate, rile up a fringe group of educators who laud the likes of Diane Ravitch and Leonie Haimson, and make a separate event “dedicated” to educators during a low period of TV watching, I not only succeed in not creating any solutions, I now get entry into the epicenter of the discussion about education?

It’s too easy.

What’s more, NBC’s Education Nation invokes Arne Duncan’s Freudian slip of a quote when they asked “Does education need a Katrina?” Ken Bernstein spoke about this more clearly than I could, but I have to add this: it wasn’t the hurricane itself that devastated the city per se. It was when the levees broke that the city of New Orleans, especially its poor residents, suffered most. In other words, it wasn’t by some act of nature / God that many of the residents of the area perished and had their lives completely changed; it was the system that was supposed to protect them that inevitably didn’t, even after well-meaning researchers and engineers said a powerful enough hurricane can come through and become uglier than it should have been.

Same with education.

And I’m happy education has become a national issue and that, finally, people have become more vocal about the need for change. I just didn’t think it was going to get this ugly this fast. But if there’s something to be surmised from the events of that catastrophic episode (besides that very few people actually want to talk about race and class much) is that the actual people of New Orleans and real allies can come together and show amazing resilience for as many people as possible, making things happen in spite of failed policies from their government. The more we add our voices and our opinion in ways that don’t comfort to the mold of a two-hour special or a chat specially made for said special, then we’re moving in the right direction.

In other words, education needs a Katrina like America needs another 9/11.

But if it’s done right the first time, we don’t have to come back to this question.

Jose, who wonders whether obfuscation is the actual goal …