I am just old enough to remember Paul Harvey, and the "rest of the story."
Between Waiting for Superman, Oprah, Education Nation, Obama's charge to raise the bar, and the resulting present (and I pessimistically argue ephemeral) empassioned focus on education in this country, it is clear that the whole story has not been told in far too many instances. Here is my take on the untold halves of the many stories told in the last couple of weeks...the rest of the story, if you will:
1. Unions oppose merit pay not to protect lazy teachers but because no one can come up with a fair and reliable way to assess teaching "merit." Issue number one: test scores don't work because not all teachers are in tested disciplines.
2. Those other countries who post great education stats? Their systems are different than ours. Some screen out special education kids. Some have separate vocational tracks which are conveniently not part of their data. Many in those systems lament the fact that the kids they produce are test-takers, not thinkers.
3. Weighing myself will not make me lose weight...I've being weighing in for years and the number is only going the wrong way. Testing kids more will not make them learn. In fact, testing actually takes up instructional time, the loss of which not surprisingly has a negative effect on test performance.
4. American schools held up as models of success always have the following by comparison to the mainstream: extra funding or an enrollment screen or both. These models are neither replicable nor sustainable in other schools unless those schools also get extra funding or an enrollment screen or both.
5. Every child can learn, but not every child will. To blame that solely on teachers or on students is yet another heinous oversimplification of the complex problems facing education, educators, students, and families today.
The rest of the story? I'm sure there's even more. I'm tired of hearing half-stories in the sound bytes mainstream America turns to as it's source of facts.