Wednesday, August 3, 2016

King's No Excuses

Well, of course it was about no excuses for the students. That was pretty much the whole point. It's the kind of setting Those People need. "We don't a care if you're poor or dyslexic or homeless or just plain not very bright. We are going to demand that you succeed." That's what Those Children need, and it's what No Excuses schools have always promised and demanded. So the first part of this quote is baloney, one more attempt to revise history and avoid having to defend the indefensible.

No excuses for educators has certainly part of the landscape, with teachers and principals have been told, from the first days of No Child Left Behind, that no excuses would free them from the punishment that will be meted out for those students who don't get above-average test scores.

Who gets all excuses? Elected officials and education bureaucrats. Does a school have too few resources, old materials, crumbling building problems? Then clearly the school is to blame. The teachers are at fault for not getting their students to pass the Big Standardized Test-- if they had done that, the school would no longer be poor, or something like that.

But the legislators fail to get schools the resources they need (or even actively oppose such a thing)-- those guys get all the excuses they want. Are there stupid laws getting in the school's way? That's not the lawmakers' fault. Is the school chronically underfunded? That's not the legislature's fault. Are schools stuck in a morass of foolish rules and regulations because the feds laid down the law? Is there an expensive mess that erupted from the federal force-feeding of Common Core to each state? Well, you can't blame any of that on the bozos in DC.

King knows this dodge well. When his public meetings turned up a large number of Very Angry New Yorkers at public meetings, King made the excuse that it was just some special interest groups. It was union agitators. In no way was the resistance to his policies the fault of bad policies that agitated ordinary people so badly that they felt compelled to go complain about it.

From "teachers are the most important factor in schools" to "teachers can't hide behind student poverty and poor home life," ed reform has made tons of excuses for the mess their policies created. Neither Rod Paige nor Arne Duncan nor John King has ever stood up to say, "Hey, states-- you must fully fund your schools, and we don 't want to hear any excuses."

"No Excuses" has always applied to teachers and students. It has never been applied to policymakers nor legislators nor self-appointed education mavens. Plenty of students have been suspended and disciplined because they had no excuses for their behavior, but so far, no policy makers or legislators have been spanked for making excuses about not properly funding schools. No, all of those folks can have as many excuses as they'd like.


  1. I have such a visceral reaction to that picture and quote by John King. I have so little control over my students home life, and society in general, that to point the finger of blame at me makes my head explode.

    I take students where they are and move them along as best I can. If the local, state, and federal government either won't give me the resources to do the job, or continue to throw unrealistic mandates at me, well, I don't know what to say.

    Thank you Mr. Greene for speaking for many of us.