How can you identify an education bureaucrat? Valerie Strauss had an excellent example of what one sounds like in her Washington Post piece this weekend. Here is a typical policy recommendation written in edu-speak.

“After consulting the research and assessment data, and involving all stakeholders in the decision-making process, we have determined that a relentless pursuit of excellence and laser-like focus on the standards, synergistically with our accountability measures, action-oriented and forward-leaning intervention strategies, and enhanced observation guidelines for classroom look-fors, will close the achievement gap and raise the bar for all children.”

I have to take a little Dramamine to get through that run on sentence myself. For a little Monday morning fun I direct you to a quiz you can take to see if you might have what it takes to be an educrat. Rick Hess put this together for EdWeek.  Keep count of how many phrases you think apply to you.

1] I routinely describe teachers and schools as “good” or “effective” based on limited, simplistic, standardized metrics like reading and math scores.

2] Parents who opt out of state tests are irresponsible and need to get with the program so that we can get the scores we need to hold teachers and schools accountable.

3] Charter schools are good so long as they’re part of a “managed portfolio,” use a uniform application and expulsion code, backfill, are nonprofit, have an authorizer-approved plan for what to do if a student forgets his lunch, and don’t do anything to offend me.

4] It’s important for the federal government tell states how to identify “failing” schools and what to do about them.

5] I get a warm feeling when talk turns to “P-20 alignment.”

6] It’s good that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights regulates the availability of single-sex classrooms and programs by making clear that “A specific, individual justification (demonstrating the recipient’s objective and the substantial relationship between the objective and the single-sex nature of the class or activity) is necessary for each single-sex class or activity. A recipient may not offer single-sex classes in multiple grades or subjects without separately justifying each class. At the elementary school level, where a class typically covers many subjects, the recipient must separately justify the use of single-sex classes for each subject.”

7] State legislators should adopt a uniform statewide teacher evaluation policy for every teacher in every grade in every school.

8] If public officials just had the courage to make our schools do more of what schools do in Finland, Singapore, or Shanghai, our education worries would be behind us.

9] After more than a century and a half of messy confusion, we’ve finally discovered the right way to train all new teachers—and we need to make sure that everyone gets trained that way.

10] The federal government should require all states to grade teacher preparation programs, and grades should be based largely on graduates’ value-added scores on state reading and math tests.

11] We should to settle on the smartest, best way to pay teachers and then encourage state legislators to mandate that model for every school in every district in their state.

12] People who disagree with me on Common Core, ESEA, teacher evaluation, and the rest are mostly just playing politics. I really wish they’d simmer down and shut up.

13] I’ve never been reminded of the USSR’s “five-year plans” when the U.S. Department of Ed orders waiver states to devise . . . five-year plans, with ambitious (if arbitrary) race-based performance targets.

14] We need more state and federal laws regulating peer mentoring, anti-bullying programs, and school discipline because these things are too important to be left to provincial, small-minded local educators, parents, and school boards.

15] “Good” research usually agrees with my views on reform (though I’m not trained to conduct or evaluate research and rarely read beyond an abstract).

16] I find it easiest to communicate in acronyms and buzzwords. When laypeople can’t follow me, I chalk it up to their lack of expertise.

17] Researchers can tell us the right way to govern, organize, and deliver schooling, and responsible policymakers try to act accordingly.

I will caution you that there are phrases in here that even well meaning grassroots education activists are guilty of saying/doing. That is the challenge of advocating for education policy.

Hess says that if you can identify with 12 or more, you are an aspiring education bureaucrat.  What is your favorite indicator?

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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