There is an old myth that vampires cannot be seen in a mirror. A vampire has no real substance, the story goes, so light simply travels through him, rather than bouncing back and creating a reflection. That myth came to mind when Tim Daly of the New Teacher Project recently asked “who’s a member of the ‘blame the teacher’ crowd?” and could not find a single person. Apparently Daly cannot see himself in a mirror.
If there was ever a question about the existence of the ‘blame the teacher’ crowd, it was surely put to rest by the response of many in the self-identified ‘education reform’ community to the prospect of a wave of teacher layoffs as schools re-opened for the 2010-11 school year. Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation, Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Wal-Mart Professor of Education Reform Jay Greene: the blogging boys of the educational right have told all who would listen that the education funding crisis and the prospect of massive layoffs was a good thing, and that the passage of the edu-jobs legislation mitigating those layoffs was the real disaster. With Lenin, they embrace the formula “better fewer, but better”: public schools would be better off with fewer teachers. After all, what do teachers have to do with the education of students?