Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Right Reverend Al Sharpton ~ Educator

There are times when I appreciate Reverend Al and yet I'd just as soon trade him in most days. His involvement with the Education Equality Project gives David Brooks ammunition to raise issues about Barack Obama's education policy. Fresh from his claiming that Obama wouldn't fit in at an Applebee's salad bar when in fact they have none, one might wonder if Mr. Brooks likewise knows squat about education.

I note that various big city superintendents are involved with EEP, most notably NYC's Joel Klein. I'll pass on figuring out "the former Clinton official" Andrew Rotherham. I do note that the Education Sector biography offers that he is completing his Doctorate in Political Science at UVA. He is a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, an outfit infamous for their "third way" centrist weenieism.

Returning to Mr. Brooks, he writes (in the allegedly liberal New York Times where he supposedly plays the part as the token conservative) the following:

He proposes dozens of programs to build on top of the current system, but it’s not clear that he would challenge it. He’s all carrot, no stick. He’s politically astute — giving everybody the impression he’s on their side — but substantively vague. Change just isn’t that easy.

Obama endorses many good ideas and is more specific than the McCain campaign, which hasn’t even reported for duty on education. But his education remarks give the impression of a candidate who wants to be for big change without actually incurring the political costs inherent in that enterprise.

I've looked high and low for the October 2005 speech referenced by yet the closest thing I've found is this TNR piece from March that reads rather like Mr. Brooks column. I agree that change isn't easy, perhaps especially so in the complicated work of educating children in this society, and yet his positions on education on his campaign website isn't that much about the carrot but more about removing the stick. Surely there are sorry teachers that need to be removed yet right now I'd suggest more good teachers are leaving the profession thanks to right wing's sticks. St. John simply follow the right's belief that markets solve everything.

My take on No Child Left Behind from back in February of 2006 still essentially works for me yet with hopes that a Democrat will be in the White House with a solid majority in Congress perhaps the need is even greater to take a long, hard look at rolling back the right's stranglehold on education policy. David Brooks, or Reverend Al for that matter, isn't interested in taking that long, hard look. John Gunn

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