Sending Out an "S.O.S." to Find a Clear Understanding of Education "Status Quo"

Over at the Ed News Colorado blog, progressive teacher-activist Sabrina Stevens Shupe lays out a critique against reformer types for “the intellectually lazy use of ‘status quo.'” She says that reformers like me use the term as a blunt object “meant to suggest low achievement,” but that in reality the No Child Left Behind test-based accountability regime is the true “status quo.”

Guess it all depends on your perspective. I question how truly pervasive this lazy reformer use of “status quo” is. Without a ton of time on my hands, I took to my own archives here at Ed Is Watching. The last two instances in which I used the phrase “status quo” were to talk specifically about the current states of union bargaining transparency and teacher evaluations. Going back to last October 1, though, this type of remark I made might rile up Shupe:

Funny how we forget so quickly about $100 billion of borrowed taxpayer funds shipped around the country to prop up the K-12 status quo.

While the general tenor of her posting is a healthy reminder to be careful about sweeping uses of the phrase “status quo,” her own focus solely on test-based accountability weakens her case. What’s the “status quo” when it comes to parental choice? What’s the “status quo” when it comes to teacher pay and evaluation systems? What’s the “status quo” when it comes to benefiting bureaucrats vs. consumers? What’s the “status quo” when it comes to funding patterns and class size strategies? What’s the “status quo” when it comes to to union transparency and financial accountability? Etcetera….

Still, Shupe’s post provided educational value — introducing me to a project she is a part of called the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. You can bet that I’m not going to tear down this reactive summertime campaign as some mere defense of the “status quo.” (In fact, the idea of local as opposed to national curriculum has some surface appeal.)

I thought about finding another way to deliver an original criticism of the SOS March for an agenda that mostly combines empty platitudes with misguided nostrums. (My Education Policy Center friends helped me look up a word or two there.) Instead, over at Education Debate at Online Schools, Anthony Krinsky has offered up a two-part expose — first, debunking a large chunk of their agenda, and second, bringing down the thinly-veiled effort to classify it as a “grassroots” movement.

As for me, when it comes to S.O.S., I prefer to think of this (blame my mom if you have to):

You can’t get much more “status quo” than that.