After a full day of discussions about public education among a select group of establishment educators and allied think-tank types, the best recommendation they could all come up with is the need for more “effective teachers.” Not to be outdone by the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Education, the New York Times, in its second annual conference held on September 13, decided to put its three cents in the ongoing discussions on public education which seem to have attracted the attention of the establishment cognitive elite.
Naturally, there was no criticism of the progressive curriculum which has destroyed academic excellence in the government schools. The focus was on teachers, who do not formulate the curriculum, but merely implement it. The Times statement about the conference made that clear:
The second annual Schools for Tomorrow conference will explore how government, the private sector, parents and others can develop the best teachers possible. Topics of discussion will include the changing role of the teacher, using technology more effectively, teacher training and professional development and more.
The entire conference was videotaped so that anyone with access to the Internet can actually view the discussions. Among the participants were several New York Times columnists who acted as moderators as well as such establishment luminaries as Dennis Walcott, chancellor of New York’s public schools, who gave a rather cheerful report on the improvements being made in the city’s schools; Mark Edwards, superintendent of Moorseville, N.C., Graded School District where test scores are up. Somehow he was supposed to reveal some magic trick to the Moorseville success story; Aneesh Chopra, former chief technology officer for the United States, who opined that technology alone will not improve education; Pedro Noguera, professor of education at Columbia University, who jolted the audience by saying, “We have set some schools up for failure,” which received great applause; Laura Saunders, head of the Rebecca School, who spoke of the joys of educating special needs kids. And others.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)