Friday, October 25, 2013

Grant Wiggins responds to my take on his open letter to Diane Ravitch

This was written by Grant Wiggins and is a response to my response to Grant's open letter to Diane Ravitch. You can find Grant's open letter here and my response here

by Grant Wiggins

Thanks for your considered reply to my post. I am delighted that people have responded so thoughtfully to it, which was the main point: thoughtful dialogue.

The entire focus of my piece was the pressing need for school change and that it is in our control. To turn it around and say that I think poverty is not in our control is not really what I was driving at. Growing inequality is a terrible problem; poverty is a blight on society. But to say that educators should focus directly on it instead of what they can do to make schools better immediately is kicking the can down the road. It makes a nice excuse for keeping schools as they are.

The best thing we can do as educators to eliminate poverty is to improve education, as all the data show. That's where I think you are misrepresenting my ideas somewhat. I am a progressive democrat, having never voted republican in my life. But like President Obama and the New York Times - hardly conservatives - I am calling for serious reform of what is in our control: how teachers teach and how schools are run. What I greatly resent is having you or Diane or anyone else lump all of us reformers in one bunch as anti-teacher, anti-social welfare, anti-public-education. I am none of those things, and I think my record of 30 years of trying to improve public education shows it.

I think Diane is hurting, not helping, the process by such crude categorization and harsh polemics. I agree with her fears; I strongly disagree with her tactics. And I must say, I disagree with your last sentence. I don't see much of a clear, explicit, and comprehensive reform plan from Diane. Her focus is almost totally on how to save schools from greedy and mean-spirited privatizers. And if my email is any barometer a lot of people agree with me.

Thanks for the dialogue, as always.

You may print this if you wish.

Cheers, Grant


  1. I disagree with Grant Wiggins. Poverty is an issue that teachers and principals must also address because as we know, nearly 70% what happens to a kid in school depends on what he brings - himself and his home background. Privatization is an issue , because business is driven by data, which means test scores instead of addressing the needs of kids and giving them an education , something that you can't measure
    Deborah Meier said that are rich kids are “expected to have opinions,” and poor kids, who are expected to do what they’re told. Schools for the well-off are about inquiry and choices; schools for the poor are about drills and compliance.
    Maybe Privatization for rich kids is OK

  2. Why should it have to be an either/or forced choice? Can we not do both -- work on improved teaching and learning in school (a multi-faceted topic) *and* press for changes to mitigate and ultimately limit poverty and its effects on children (also a multi-faceted issue, with many components). It seems to me that by arguing about which to do first we are like the snake swallowing its tail.

    As teachers, we can (as Grant Wiggins suggests) focus locally on improved curricula, instruction, school climate and so on and *at the same time* as citizens we can get active in our local communities and organizations to make changes that will positively affect low-income families; we can also become politically active because citizen apathy and disengagement is a major problem.

    Let's start a "Do Both!" movement.

  3. If we eliminate poverty, education will get a lot better.

    So ... how do we eliminate poverty?


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