The Masters of Reforming Our Nation's Schools keep railing about the status quo. The current crisis in education requires us to break the mold, change our course, do something different. the status quo, we're told repeatedly, is not working.
Here's the thing.
A Nation at Risk came out in 1983, kicking off the current generation of mania for waving one sort of magical stick or another at schools. "OMGZZ," said the risk-threatened nation. "We had better get wise men in DC a-fixin' this, toot the sweet!" (I'm paraphrasing here.)
No Child Left Behind became law in 2001, becoming effective at the start of 2002 and thereby enshrined the notion of top-down, federal-controlled, test-based, punitive, centrally-designed management of the nation's educational system. NCLB's ridiculous and unreachable requirement that 100% of the nation's students be above average was used as leverage to push states into a more top-down, more federally-controlled, more test-based, more punitive, more centrally-designed system of public schooling under Race to the Top and Common Core.
So when somebody says that we need to change the status quo, I completely agree, because you know what the status quo is?? This. This test-worshipping teacher-punishing student-hating one-size-fits-all mockery of a school system is our status quo.
Every single child now in America's school has encountered only this "reformed" version of public schooling. We have now inflicted this foolishness on an entire generation.
Every criticism of public schools, every test score offered as "proof," every "we have to do better" political press release is not not NOT an indictment of the traditional model of American public schooling. That model has been, depending on your location, something between crippled and crushed for over a decade, buried under the bulk of NCLBRTTT baloney for over a decade.
No, if you want to criticize the State of Education in this country, you will need to direct that to the current keepers of the status quo flame, the folks formerly known as "reformers." We've been living and teaching in their world for over a decade. They have had control of education for the entire school life of our current students. They cannot whine that they are outsiders, bravely trying to pull down the ramparts of the status quo, because they ARE the status quo. And in the words of that great philosopher, Dr. Phil, I have to as, "How's that working for you?" If the car's wrapped around a tree, and you're the one who demanded the driver's seat, don't start blaming the hostages you stuffed in the trunk.
We will have to wait for the language to catch up. What we've been calling "reform" or "reformy stuff" or "that miserable pile of polished turds pushed off on us by corporate tools" is, in fact, the status quo. It is those of us who want to reclaim traditional American public education who are the rebels, the reformers.
In the meantime, every time those folks complain about the need to disrupt the status quo, I will remember the words of the other great philosopher, Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."