Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hapsburg Approach to Education Reform: The EKU education forum

I suppose it's not a big secret that education policy is plagued by ideological inbreeding. If there were any doubts about this, they would be dispelled by a cursory look at the line-up at the Forum on the History of Education in Kentucky, which will be held at Eastern Kentucky University on Sept. 8.

While one can count on hearing the endless slogans about Diversity among the educrats, you won't find it in the line-up of establishment figures included in the program. Here are the "approved panelists" for the 10:00 session:
  • o P. G. Peeples, Lexington Fayette County Urban League
  • o Stu Silberman, Prichard Committee for academic Excellence
  • o Elaine Farris, Clark Co Superintendent
  • o Ruthanne Palumbo, Fayette County legislator
  • o Kevin Noland, KDE/UofL
  • o Richard Angelo, UK Education Policy
  • o Terry Holliday, Kentucky Education Commissioner
  • o Sharron Oxendine, KEA President
  • o Erik Myrup, History, UK/FayetteABC
If this were a breeding program instead of an education conference, we'd end up with a bunch of hemophiliacs on our hands. The state teacher's union is included, but not the professional associations representing school administrators, school superintendents, and school boards? And you will look in vain for any representation from parent organizations.

And don't even bother to look for organizations that have been critical of mainstream education policies in Kentucky. The only panelist on any of the three panels that appears to be from an organization critical of the establishment is Erik Myrup, a professor of history at the University of Kentucky who wrote an opinion piece in the Herald-Leader last July critical of the inordinate emphasis on testing in schools. Other than that, it appears to be pretty slim pickins in the Diversity department.

I know, I know. Who would actually take them seriously when it came to all the Diversity rhetoric. What was I thinking?

And since when do you class professional spinmeisters for large institutions as "media"? Here's the list for the "Media Forum":
  • o Linda Blackford, H-L
  • o Mark Neikirk, NKU
  • o Mark Hebert, WHAS/UofL
  • o Ronnie Ellis, CNHI News
  • o Richard Wilson, C-J/Independent Colleges
Folks, Northern Kentucky University and U of L are not "media" in the sense anyone uses that word in this context. Both Neikirk and Hebert are former reporters and editors. I don't know Neikirk, I'm sure he's a very competent at what he does; I know Hebert is, but if you think they have latitude to let their hair down in a discussion in which their institutions are self-interested, you don't know how the world works.

Where is Mandy Connell, WHAS radio's morning talk show host? She's actually, like, really a media person. Where is Lucy May, the former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter who covered the controversy over the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA) in the late 90's--and who (much to the chagrin of the educational establishment) reported both sides of the issues?

And where in all this mix is Penny Sanders, the former director of the Office for Education Accountability, the legislature's education enforcement arm (which had its wings unceremoniously clipped when it was reckless enough to take an honest look at the state's KIRIS tests in the late 90's)?

This is one of the many things that doom any efforts to reform public education: the unwillingness to include anyone in the discussion who might question the fundamental assumptions of the educational establishment.

Here we go again.


One Brow said...

The state teacher's union is included, but not the professional associations representing school administrators, school superintendents, and school boards?

There's an actual adminstrator on the panel. Would it be better to replace the administrator with a member of a professional organization who is not an administrator? Why?

Both Neikirk and Hebert are former reporters and editors.

So, former media peole as well as current ducators, and this is a bad thing?

I see no reasong to take this complaining seriously.

E.L. Myrup said...

I love the title for this blog posting. The Habsburgs were indeed famous for this sort of thing. (By way of example, Charles II of Spain was descended from his eminent ancestor Juana "La Loca" fourteen different ways!)