I'm half-way through Linda Darling-Hammond's The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. First, I agree with Darling-Hammond whole-heartedly:
As the fate of individuals and nations is increasingly interdependent, the quest for access to an equitable, empowering education for all people has become a critical issue for the American nation as a whole. As a country, we can and must enter a new era. No society can thrive in a technological, knowledge-based economy by depriving large segments of its population of learning. The path to our mutual well-being is built on educational opportunity. Central to our collective future is the recognition that our capacity to survive and thrive ultimately depends on ensuring to all of our people what should be an unquestioned entitlement - a rich and inalienable right to learn. (p. 328)
I'm offended by Stephen Downes' blanket accusations of justified institutional mistrust because I personally know far too many good, well-intentioned, hard working people leading public districts across the country. Furthermore, I remain convinced that all people have the right to a rich education, regardless of the economic and technological resources at their personal disposal. For me, blaming isn't solving, and the only viable solution we have is to work through the issues that arise in our public systems of education. Why else would I, of all people, willfully list the wide range of barriers that arguably hold my field back?
Second, Michael Barber and Mona Mourshed are correct:
The experience of [high-performing] school systems suggests that three things matter most: 1) getting the right people to become teachers; 2) developing them into effective instructors and; 3) ensuring that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child. (p. 5)
While I can't do much to bring the right people into the profession, I'm working my guts out to help good teachers become great and ensure that my corner of the system enables the best possible instruction for every child.