The Looming Excellence Emergency

Will the education reform movement exhaust the word “excellence” before the achievement gap is *crushed*?

Imagine a world without excellence. Experts say that with the education reform movement on schedule to exhaust the superlative as soon as 2016, an excellence-deprived future is a near guarantee. The problem, say excellence experts, is that a vast pool of corporate money has produced an excellence bubble as new groups rush to cash in on the fierce urgency of the moment. Experts say that a new education reform group is formed in the United States every 37 seconds, and that four in five of these groups are steeped in some variety of excellence.

Excellence 4 Everyone
Just how dire is the looming excellence emergency? There are now so many groups claiming the mantle of outstandingness that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish one excellent organization from another. Take Educators for Excellence, otherwise known as E4E. This gra$$roots group is made up of teachers who are so excellent that they seek to be rewarded for their excellence, instead of just for showing up like their non-excellent colleagues. But don’t confuse them with this other E4E: an effort to provide free access to Coursera courses through the sale of Coursera swag. Thanks to your generous purchase of this mug (apple not included), Siddarth, a student in India, will be able to enjoy a few minutes of a course on entrepreneurship:

“My annual income is $0 because I am a student. Also, I am joining college this fall and the expenses for college will be quite a burden for my parents. I don’t want to strain my parents already fiscally-tight pockets… This course will help me learn more about entrepreneurship. It will assist me in creating jobs when there are none available. I rely on this course to help me turn my innovation and my ideas into successful business ventures.”

The Alliance for Excellent Excellence
And whatever you do, don’t mistake either of these E4Es with the Alliance for Excellent Education, otherwise known as All 4 Ed. One way to keep All 4 Ed distinct in your mind from E4E number one or E4E number two is to remember that it was founded by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise whose career ended in a not-particularly excellent way after he invited a state employee to whom he was not married to a share a high-performing seat with him. 

The Excellent Alliance for Excellence
Also, the Alliance for Excellent Education is completely separate from the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which just happens to be run by another former governor. And neither of these groups has anything to do with Education, Excellence and Equity, or E3, or Excellent Education for Everyone, which also happens to be known as E3. ¿Entiendes?

Anyone CAN do it
But it isn’t merely excellence that faces a critical depletion. “Can” can’t seem to keep up for the demand for its services either. Just last week organizers announced the formation of a new education reform group in Massachusetts known as MassCAN. Except that this new MassCAN isn’t part of the other CAN family: the Walton-funded Campaign for Achievement Now, also known as 50CAN. Instead, the breakaway MassCAN stands for the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network and consists of local tech titans trying to strong arm the state into paying for worker training. Google “MassCAN,” however, and you won’t find either a tech scam or a hedge-funded reform scam but the only CANN you need to make sense of any of this.

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5 Comments

  1. you forgot the hobo at the front door of Whole Foods on E Houston with his
    hopeNchangeCAN,( kindly distributed by the loading dock)

  2. Rahm recently regaled a high profile Chicago charter graduating class (and attending family/ well wishers) with stories of his troubles in the Clinton administration, an infected finger that nearly forced him to “float to the other side” and multiple references to his own compulsive vulgarity (good times). He took care to highlight the “excellence” of the charter’s 100% graduation rate and 100% college admittance. This same school expelled a group of young men as late as May and had almost a dozen others not “walk”. The most excellent thing about excellence is that it can be faked if it leads to personal gain. That is super awesome for a guy like Rahm. Didn’t work out as well for Beverly Hall.

  3. all this excellence reminded me of an Air Force sticker circa 1991 that read: Global Reach Global Power through Total Quality Management.

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