Monday, December 24, 2012

Chris Barbic Open Letter

Gary Rubinstein is a Teach for America alum from its earliest days.  He is a well-informed critic of many "reform" efforts taking place on the national scale - and still teaching, you know, in an actual classroom. 

This month, he's been writing a series of open letters to some of the leaders of the reform movement.  I enourage you to read them - the Michelle Rhee one is particularly compelling.

Turns out he knows our very own ASD Superintendent Chris Barbic.  They worked in Houston together, and run into each other at TFA events from time to time.

Please, if you have a moment in this busy holiday time, read the full letter on Mr. Rubinstein's blog, hosted by TFA.  I'm amazed they haven't shut him down yet.

Here's the paragraph where Mr. Rubinstein brought home the real argument about whether the ASD can meet its goals:

"Even with this potential for artificially upping the numbers, I still don’t think that you will accomplish this goal. If you’ve followed other attempted ‘turnarounds’ that have been going on around the country, they sometimes get an initial boost only to regress the next year. Even Arne Duncan has completely changed his once optimistic view about turnarounds. Where he once spoke of mythical 90-90-90 schools (90% free lunch, 90% graduation rate, 90% achievement), he now can only point to schools that have achieved ‘double digit gains.’ You seem to be the only one committing to such a specific and, in my view, unattainable goal. It is like you’re promising that you will get a group of people to all run three minute miles when nobody has ever done that, not even you."

Please continue to engage in the conversation about whether the ASD model is viable or even appropriate.

Though some of these folks that are the subject of the letters are not directly involved in Memphis or Tennessee reforms, their work often underlies it.  Here are links to Mr. Rubinstein's individual letters:
Letter to Whitney Tilson
Letter to Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg
Letter to Michael Johnston
Letter to Timothy Daly
Letter to Jon Schnur
Letter to Chris Barbic
Letter to Michelle Rhee

Mr. Rubinstein has gotten one response so far, from Michael Johnston.

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