Part of a series of posts for folks who are just beginning to find there way through the current debates on education. My blog dedicated to that audience is Reclaiming Pubic Education 101.
As one wades out into the sea of education blogging, one repeatedly encounters the term "reformy" or "reformy stuff." There's a short explanation, but it underlines one of the central issues of the education world these days.
The champions of Common Core, high stakes testing, charters, TFA, and the other tools of powerful amateurs dedicated to dismantling US public education have tried to claim for themselves the mantle of "Reformers," of people who are standing up to combat the status quo.
"Reformer" is a powerful word. It speaks of someone who sees and unjust system and fights to fix it, to make it more fair, more just. A reformer stands up, against whatever odds, for positive change.
Our current crop of corporate raiders, government stooges, privateers, data overlords, and public ed destroyers do not match the definition of the word. They are not standing up for justice. They are not trying to Fight the Power for freedom and a better world. They are trying to twist and destroy the public education for profit and power.
More than that, they are not fighting against the status quo. Every one of these "reforms" has been in place for years, even decades. Charters have been given every condition they claimed they needed for success. High stakes federally-pushed tests have been used to drive instruction for over a decade, as have state-mandated uniform standards. TFA is over twenty years old. These folks aren't fighting the status quo-- they ARE the status quo.
And so, folks fighting to restore the promise of public education generally refuse to allow these folks the name "reformers," nor can we call the failed policies that have now had ample opportunity to prove themselves "reform."
Some folks tried, "deformers," but while it's catchy, it doesn't really captured the degree to which htey have successfully destroyed and uprooted elements of pubic education. Many bloggers have tried many constructions with limited success (I myself have coined "Masters of Reforming Our Nation's Schools," but while MoRONS has a certain sophomoric semi-wit to it, it's not really practical for writing).
So the term that has emerged most often is "reformy." Like Colbert's "truthiness," it captures the degree to which the thing is trying to imitate a real quality with a cheap, fake imitation of that quality. Likewise "reformy stuff" shows an understanding of the great CCSS-based complex of educational malpractice without showing it any respect.