Education Next is trotting out its Big Fat Survey of Educational Stuff for 2015, and for eduwonks it's twenty-three pages of interesting stuff. I'm sure many of us will be parsing, mining and massaging the results, as well as discussing how much the reform-loving sponsors of the survey can be trusted. But as I poked through it, two results jumped out at me immediately.
The whole premise of our ongoing onslaught of reformy forces against public education is that we are awash in a sea of terrible schools. So where are they? Where are all the people saying, "Yes, my school is failing."
Even the folks grading Other People's Schools-- it's a regular thing in these surveys that folks think their own schools are better than the national picture, but the difference here is a blip (the only interesting blip is that more African-Americans think their local schools are failing than think the nation's are).
I mean, we can expect a certain percentage of people to think schools are failing for the usual cranky reasons-- school doesn't teach cursive, or it let's pregnant ladies teach, or it didn't play Chris enough on first string, or school officials kept fining them for truancy, or teachers kept flunking Chris just cause Chris never did assigned work and flunked all the tests. Add to that the constant barrage over the last fifteen years that US public schools are terrible, that they must be reformed, that students must be rescued from these deep pits of failing failure.
So why aren't more people convinced? Why aren't more people giving schools a failing grade?
What about teachers?
There are certainly aspects of these data that are unbragworthy. But it is still worth noting that the reformsters narrative of terrible schools staffed with horrible teachers is not what most folks see-- certainly not the level of disaster needed to really jumpstart a good round of disaster capitalist roulette. Perhaps that's why some folks have to work so very hard to create the impression of educational disaster.