Time’s Tenure Story


Time’s cover story by Haley Sweetland Edwards is the tale of David Welch’s crusade to provide school CEO’s with more power to control their workforce. I’m sure there will be much reflection on this article in the days ahead, but here’s my quick read over lunch reaction.

It comes close to being a balanced reporting of the story. Public education advocates will find that it goes to easy on Welch. Reformsters will find that it is a bit too transparent and doesn’t fully capture Welch’s awesome heroism.

You’ll want to read the whole thing for yourself, but here are some highlights that jumped out at me.

On Vergara: It was the first time, in California or anywhere else, that a court had linked the quality of a teacher, as measured by student test scores, to a pupil’s right to an education. 

Yes. It was the court that created that linkage. The plaintiffs did not, the research does not, and reality does not. But the court did.

It is a reflection of our politics that no one elected these men to take on the knotty problem of fixing our public schools, but here they are anyway, fighting for what they firmly believe is in the public interest. 

Edwards strikes this note several times, and I give Time credit for at least including the observation. But the Real Big Story here is not the tenure wars. The real big story here is that a bunch of unelected amateurs with large piles of money have decided that they should go ahead and take over previously-democratic portions of the public sector. Perhaps the editors at Time lack the balls to pick that angle, or perhaps they simply judged that the angle would not generate the kind of clicks and sales that a tenure wars angle would.

I don’t really fault Edwards. The elements of the story, the reporting, are all here. But for whatever reason, we’ve decided not to treat the derailing of democracy by some Very Rich Guys as the main story here. Read more>>