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Paul Thomas vs. Peter Greene: Should We Debate the “Reformers”?

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Paul Thomas of Furman University writes that he has a new perspective about social media. He used to get into heated debates on Twitter with “reformers,” arguing about their ideas and practices. But now he says he won’t do it anymore. He believes that when you debate a proposition, you legitimate the other side. If someone says “poverty doesn’t matter,” why debate such a silly statement?

 

Peter Greene disagrees with Thomas; he says we must engage because the public needs to be informed. He is unwilling to let error and misguided opinion shape public policy about public education.

 

Thomas writes that public policy in education has been dominated in recent years by non-educators:

 

Historically and significantly during the last three decades, U.S. public education policy and public discourse have been dominated by politicians, political appointees, billionaire hobbyists, pundits, and self-appointed entrepreneurs—most of whom having no or little experience or expertise in the field of education or education scholarship….

 

Over about two years of blogging at my own site and engaging regularly on Twitter and other social media platforms, I have gradually adopted a stance that I do not truck with those who are disproportionately dominating the field of and public discourse about education.

 

Yes, I have done my share of calling out, discrediting, and arguing with, but except on rare occasions, I am done with that. Those who have tried to include me in the “@” wars on Twitter may have noticed my silence when the other side is added.

 

Each time we invoke their names, their flawed ideas, or their policies, we are joining the tables they have set….

 

Peter Greene says, this is our house, and we should not let the entrepreneurs set the table or own it.

 

I agree with Peter. We cannot allow public education policy to be shaped without regard to facts, evidence, or experience. Peter gives the example of Common Core: for a long time, reformers claimed that CC was written by teachers. That claim was so thoroughly and frequently debunked that one seldom hears it anymore (now we hear that it was written by the narion’s governors…as if).

Like Paul, I have argued with “reformers” on Twitter. Almost always, it is a fruitless exercise. I can’t convince them, they can’t convince me, not with 140 characters, not with essays or even books. Yes, we must build solidarity.

But I am still a believer in the value of marshaling facts and evidence to prove that the test-based accountability, the teacher-bashing, and privatization schemes now promoted by leading foundations and the U.S. Department of Education are harmful to our children and our society.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

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