Dear Education Innovation Grant Donor,
I really dislike you. You come into cities, districts, and states with your shiny, quiet offices and fancy titles to dangle all this money right out of our reach. It’s quite easy to get this money, you say. All you’re looking for are schools that are serving their kids, being innovative, thinking outside the box, providing 21st century skills.
What you really mean is you want us to be like [insert some school you love here]. What you really mean is that you want us to flood our classrooms with yet untested technologies from partner* companies. What you really mean is that you will look at the numbers instead of delving deep into what’s actually happening at a school.
You’ll give a school a gold star just because their data appears stellar (high test scores, abnormally high college acceptance rate, serving low-income population), without actually looking at how they’ve achieved it (paternalistic disciplinary practices, no extra-curriculars, no college graduations). You’ll give us lofty ideas and advice (try montessori, try flipping the classroom, scale your model, blow up your model) without a clue as to how implementation would work. You’ll encourage us to pilot, pilot, pilot without acknowledging that in reality this is experimenting on kids who don’t have any other options.
You are a parasite disguised as a benefactor.
You don’t actually know what teaching entails. You have a vague notion of what success means. You think that all you need are good managers and consultants to help you get your innovative grant donor-ing group to do well. You think that your two years of teaching experience and grad school has earned you the right to march into our buildings and “consult”. You think your ideas are news to us and that they will help us turn things around.
And guess what? You have so much money, that we are willing to listen, meet, pander, and spin our schools at different angles just so we can get some.
Because we don’t really have a choice. Do we?
*aka, you serve on their board or payroll