School reform starts with an image

Old School

Take a look at this week’s cover of Newsweek which featured an article by Michelle Rhee. Rhee, former chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., writes about the need for school reform nationwide. Yet, there she sits on newsstands throughout the country in a staged but dated view of the classroom.

If I asked you to image heath care reform, what pictures would you conjure up in your mind? Is it a nurse in an all white uniform sporting the white nurse’s cap? Would your nurse be standing in front of a 1940s era operating table?

How about transportation reform? Do you think of a family getting into a 1957 Chevy Bel Air?

Would you imagine energy reform with the coal dusted faces of miners? I doubt any of these images come to mind.

Yet we continue to depict education with images of old-time desks, rundown chalkboards, and a stack of weathered books.

This does nothing to show Americans the new challenges our schools face. These images only teach the public that school is just like it was when they were there.

It cements the idea that “what was good enough for students in my day is good enough for students today.”

One thought to “School reform starts with an image”

  1. Good point. Rhee’s main focus (sole focus?) for school reform has been on teacher effectiveness. She basically said fix the teachers and education will be fixed. This train of thought it also antiquated and misguided. She ignores all of the other challenges education must overcome: poverty, student motivation, teacher respect, technology gaps, achievement gaps, etc.

    Of course, the photo could be to meant to exaggerate the antiquity of our schools, emphasizing the need for reform. Schools haven’t used desks like the one on Newsweek’s cover for many, many years.

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