Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli laments the tendency of both opponents and proponents of “school reform” to vilify the other side with caricatures. “I think both sides care about improving children’s lives, want an education system that works for all kids, and think they are on the side of the angels,” Petrilli writes. “So let’s keeping fighting the good fight, but by engaging over ideas, not by demonizing our opponents.” Mike is right, of course. But assuming old habits die hard, it might help to have an ed reform Devil’s Dictionary. This handy device will help you keep track of who is saying what about whom and why.
It’s easy to use. When you read one of the following phrases, simply substitute the definition provided for maximum clarity!
My cause or idea.
Someone who agrees with me.
“Champion of reform”
A powerful, rich or influential person who agrees with me
A colossal blunder made by a champion of reform.
“Puts the interest of adults ahead of what’s best for kids”
People who disagree with me; cf. “status quo”
“It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
The data doesn’t support my pet reform.
“More study is needed”
The data says my pet reform has a negative effect.
“I support merit pay”
Teachers are fundamentally lazy
Children frighten me.
“Children are not data.”
Accountability frightens me.
“It’s important to listen to teachers”
I will sit in the room while teachers vent, then go back to ignoring them.
“It’s important to listen to parents”
Everyone knows parents want what’s best for their kid and no one else
“Bad schools threaten America’s economic competitiveness”
I will never see a social security check .