Who has a voice?

Everyone has a voice in the education reform debate. Some voices are louder than others. Some voices are more ubiquitous than others. Some voices make a lot of sense to me. Others, not so much. While many will disagree with each other, we have to all agree that everyone has well-meaning intentions: to make education better.

As I’ve discussed before, making education better means different things to different people, but that’s not the point of today’s post. What I find intriguing, and what is on my mind today is the venom with which opposing groups attack each other.

There are many groups, organizations, and individuals concerned with education reform. One academically-oriented group – the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado – consistently publishes eye-opening papers and articles detailing the players, large and small, in the education reform debate: ALEC, KIPP, the US Department of Education to name just a few. I am a great fan of their work.

A consistent contributor to NEPC is the educational historian Diane Ravitch. I’m a huge fan of her work as well.

A recent NEPC post by Ms. Ravitch, however, disappointed me, not because the content was misleading, or incorrect, but because I see well-meaning organizations and individuals spending so much time discrediting others. She questions the Gates Foundation’s funding of everything that has to do with education in America, insinuating their funding of organizations on both ideological sides of the education reform debate is an attempt to control the dialog.

Maybe.

But maybe this is a red herring.

So far in the education reform debate, when one group sees another group with an alternative ideological position, one typically tries to discredit the other. Just as with our dysfunctional political discourse today.

Why does this sniping occur? Because someone is trying to control the dialog.

I’m just as suspect of one group discrediting another as I am of another group providing funding to everyone.

And until everyone who is concerned about education reform decides to start working together, just like our political system, nothing will except for small local changes will ever come to pass.