Some of the insights are perfectly swell. Don't put education policy on a pedestal, because it's just the product of regular biased humans? I'm all over that one, and have been for some time. When you think you've covered something enough, say it five more times. She's talking about penetrating the bureaucratic fog (specifically with the message that using student test scores to evaluate teachers is harming the profession, so good on her), but I'm pretty sure everyone working in a classroom already knows the joys, usefulness, and special hell of repeating yourself many many times to get the message to sink in. And I have to give a bit of love to someone who writes the understated "Policy writing is not always backed by mountains of expertise."
Bur I do disagree with her on some points.
While I appreciate the insight that "too many decisions are made on a political timeline instead of a realistic one," I don't believe that I don't believe that Common Core would have worked any better "if the federal government and states had only given teachers the time and materials to really understand" it. And while I agree that we should not assume that all USED bureaucrats are evil, dim-witted trolls, I still feel comfortable mixing my "frustration with bureaucracy with the people in it" because bureaucratic muss and baloney is created by the human beings in the system. If a system sucks, it's because people let it (or make it) suck.
But then Fennell landed on a really raw nerve of mine.
There aren't enough career educator voices in government.
I thought I was going to cheer, and she noted that there are lots of great career teachers out there and lots of fine folks at USED who need to hear from teachers. But then, this...
Run an orphanage like a champion
Sigh. I know she means well, but here we are at the same old place. If teachers want to be heard, they have to travel to DC and prove that I'm worth being listened to, which seems sort of reasonable and practical except that, of course, no USED bureaucrats have ever had to prove themselves to me and just in general I have had a belly full of people who want to dictate policy and procedure and pedagogy and all manner of poop to me without ever proving that there's any reason I should be listening to them.
And dammit, why is it that I'm the one who needs to leave my work and my home and my place of business to go where it's convenient for the bureaucrats. Why am I the one who has to drop hat he's doing? Where's the Bureaucrat Ambassador Program where some USED functionary comes and works as a teacher aide in a classroom for a year? Why is this whole business premised on the notion that teachers must carry their empty bowl of policy and influence up to Mr. Bureaucratic Bumble to ask meekly, "Please, sir, may I have some more?"
Why is the dismissal of teacher voices the default?
Yes, I know that Fennell's advice is practical, that it acknowledges how the world really works. But for a while this afternoon (and not for the first time or the last), the way the world works rather pissed me off.