Saturday, October 18, 2008

Miller Time on the phrase
"Education Reform"

Here are Michael Miller's thoughts on Education Reform given in his letter to the authors of the "Frederick Education Reform" site.

Dear Sirs,

My name is Michael Miller. I am the parent of a 5th grader in Washington State . As many of you, I too have become aware of the horrible damage being done to our children in the name of “education reform.” Education reform is not something that “has occurred” as a result of any particular legislation. Rather, there have been a series of laws enacted (state & national levels) in support of the process of education reform. We must understand and remain cognoscente of the fact that education reform is not an incident that has occurred, but rather a process that is ongoing.

“Change agent” proponents of education reform have injected our schools with all sorts of what some would call “educational fads” that have damaged more than a generation of American children. I do not believe they are random “fads”, but rather are part of a choreographed agenda. They come to us (parents) cloaked in deceptive but attractive euphemisms such as “child-centered”, “group learning”, “higher-order thinking”, “critical thinking”, “tolerance”, “conflict mediation”, “discovery learning”, “constructivism”, “social justice”, “cultural competency”, etcetera; the list goes on and on. None of these euphemisms mean what parents think they mean, and they’ve all been brought to us under the guise of nation-wide “school reform.”

Those of us aware of this agenda have huge challenges to overcome. Perhaps the largest challenge we face is to convince other parents that the “automatic trust” they afford school administrations is misplaced. We have all been conditioned to extend this “automatic trust”, and usually it takes a series of personal experiences or a particular crisis to “open our eyes” to the reality of the situation. Unless we can rally a “critical mass” of the electorate, we stand little chance of reversing this damaging trend.

The language used to navigate any profession can be confusing to new-comers. The nomenclature in education is no different in this regard. It can be confusing and overwhelming to those parents whom we need to rally to our cause. It’s our job to be as clear & honest as possible about what we perceive to be the real meanings behind the afore mentioned euphemisms, and other associated nomenclature unique to our struggles in education. This brings me to the purpose of this note.

I have read much of your web-site, and agree with most all of your goals. We in Washington State are fighting similar to identical battles. I have however, found one area in particular that could cause great confusion in your target audience. Please understand, I am your ally, and I make this critique humbly and with the greatest respect. You seem to be trying to “sell” the positions you’re advocating for as “reform.” Truly, the positions you advocate for do in fact represent reform of the damaging curricula & policies put in place by the previously mentioned nation-wide “education reform.” You see, therein lies the problem. You support “reform” in fighting “education reform.” The problem is simply one of nomenclature, and it has been a source of confusion to many new converts to our cause across the nation. This confusion begins with the name of your site “Frederick Education Reform”, and continues throughout your site. For example, under the link “Election 2008” you provide excellent evaluations of particular candidates as to whether or not they support “education reform.” It took me some time to figure out that the “education reform” you were making reference to was YOUR education reform, as opposed to the nation-wide “education reform” you are fighting. You need to make it clear to your supporters that you are vigorously fighting education reform, not supporting it. Respectfully, you must pick different language to describe your advocacy positions; your opposition already owns “education reform.”

Best regards,

Michael Miller

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