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Yes, It’s Hard to Be Humble — for Education Reformers and for This Blog

There have been more than a few times when I’ve gloated about an awesome blog idea that came to life here. On some occasions, my Education Policy Center friends warned me not to “get a big head.” At first, I was worried they meant little Eddie might turn out like this guy.

Later I figured out they were just warning me about my edublogging ego getting out of control. Recently I bragged to my Grandpa about one of my awesome blog posts, when he laughed and started singing this song to me about how hard it is to be humble. Turns out he wasn’t just making it up:

Based on a couple of Fordham Institute pieces this week, it seems the principle might apply generally to the world of education reform. Andy Smarick, writing at Common Core Watch, wasted no time in making the point:

The testing “opt-out” movement is testing education reform’s humility.

Smarick highlights a series of examples where pro-education reform types have blasted back at those exercising the right to opt out of state tests. Do I like the new PARCC assessment that Colorado signed on to? No. Do I think some people’s decisions may have been informed by erroneous claims? Yes.

Does that mean there’s an excuse to be nasty about it? Of course not!

As you perhaps well know already, however, I can differ with some of the champions of test-based accountability. I don’t believe continuing to add more assessments gets Colorado where we need to be. But we concur that some kind of valid annual testing is needed to inform parental choice and ensure basic accountability for the tax-funded, government-run system of schooling we have today.

Teachers union officials don’t necessarily agree, so much so that they conjure up wildly unsubstantiated claims out of thin air:

“…We spend more than 30 percent of our instructional time right now just on preparing kids to test and then testing them,” said Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman.

Equally as compelling, I also overheard on the playground that 82 percent of statistics about testing time are made up out of whole cloth. When powerful interest groups don’t want to have an honest debate about an important topic, that should send out a big warning.

The other Fordham piece is by Rick Hess on lessons for reformers from the “Cage-Busting Teacher.” He does a great job trying to build bridges between thoughtful, motivated educators and back-seat policy drivers like my Education Policy Center friends:

Passengers can carefully study the GPS or old-fashioned roadmap while the driver focuses on the road. They can see signs that the driver missed, maybe even the truck out front making an unexpectedly fast stop. But backseat drivers need to remember all the stuff they’re not dealing with…because they’re not actually driving.

True to form, Hess balances out that great advice with some other tidbits as well. The message overall, once again, is for reformers to take a little more humble approach without going so far as pandering to educators.

Even after reading the two posts from Fordham, it’s still hard for me to be humble. But not because I’m “perfect in every way,” and not because I like to look down on people who exercise a different educational choice or who are working hard doing a good job.

It’s because, in my opinion, this blog is doing a pretty good job keeping an eye on the world of education in Colorado. Thanks for sharing the adventure!