Bottom of the Barrel

Plumbing the depths of elite disdain

First off, let’s get this straight: Arne Duncan (Harvard ’87) did not say that the majority of American teachers come from the *bottom of the barrel.* What he actually said was that “In the United States, a significant proportion of new teachers come from the bottom third of their college class”—which is completely different. For one thing, there is no mention of barrels in that statement. So why did so many teachers hear Duncan talking down to them—in the bottom of their barrel? Simple, reader—and by *simple* I am referring to you. You see, the barrel’s bottom is an enormous place, and shooting into it an elite sport as beloved as the hunting of the pheasant.  Continue reading →

“Don’t Believe the Hype”

A young MBA student tells her classmates that “education reform” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Many of my classmates in business school assume that education reform is a good thing.  Accountability! Improvement!  Closing the Achievement gap! Usually they know some Teach for America alums (who are now lawyers), or they’ve watched “Waiting for Superman.” They’ve heard of charter schools (which of course they didn’t attend), and being business-minded, they assume that privately-run schools will somehow be better.  Because many of my classmates will go on to be business leaders, decision makers, employers and parents, I think it’s important that they understand what education reform is really about. Here’s what I tell them: Continue reading →