There are so many non-sequiturs and political attacks masquerading as arguments in this Plain Dealer Op-Ed one hardly knows where to begin.
The underlying thesis of Steve Holecko's piece, however, is one that needs to be rebutted as often as it comes up. Namely, that the "education profession"-which really means the education unions and their allies-care about kids while those pushing for reform are greedy corporations and politicians committed to a "war on education" in order to shut out their political opponents and find convenient scapegoats.
This conspiracy theory informs far too much of the debate surrounding education. The reality is that all those involved in the debate surrounding education reform have a variety of motivations and interests. Teachers and administrators are not merely disinterested public servants who want to help children and charter schools and other reform advocates are not greedy opportunists seeking to get rich off of taxpayer dollars.
Personal and economic motivations exist on both sides, as do more idealistic ones. After all, the point of a union is to negotiate higher wages and better benefits for its members. I would like to think, however, that most teachers and those involved in education do so because they believe they are contributing to society and helping children and families. But it does not undermine that idealism to admit they also have financial and career goals and motivations.
And on the other side, it would be unfair to assume that charter school operators, service providers and proponents are involved only because they are out to make a profit. They care about their communities and about children's education too.
And because public education involves taxpayer dollars these debates and negotiations inevitably involve politics. But again, Holecko claims that politics only happens because of the dark motives of the supporters of the other side. Charter schools in this vision are mere sops to campaign supporters. Union political fundraising and influence are apparently simply about what is best for the kids.
And yet, who is obsessed with politics and rights? Holecko, I would argue. There is no mention of the desperation that brings this Cleveland plan to the surface in the first place, no mention of the failing schools and scores of children who have struggled with a dysfunctional system. There is no mention of accountability and competition for traditional school districts or offering real choices for parents who feel betrayed by the education system.
A healthy debate about education reform must acknowledge that both sides have varying motivations and focus instead on what reforms are best designed to improve educational performance and strengthen communities. The status quo is clearly not working and efforts to change that are not a "war" on anyone or anything. Claiming they are is a distraction and a hindrance to a healthy debate.