Re: [xmca] Cobb & McClain from a different perspective

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Fri Jan 05 2007 - 17:24:35 PST

Hi Phillip--

Yes-- When a REALLY intelligent, experienced, and influential person has
this view, its disturbing. Of course, with a little discussion
is acknowledged. But concrete existence proofs of a "better way" that do NOT
trash teachers' unions, and which teachers do not trash, such as
provided by Cobb and McClain, are important.

The problem for me is that I am not clear of what the union's roll in this
case was, which is why I cc'ed paul and kay. Kay is on leave and we may not
hear from her, but I hope we will hear from Paul. And there are MANY of you
on xmca for whom this issue is important. Critique is important: existence
proofs of alternatives are important, critiques of the limitations of the
existence proofs are important.

my 2 centimes

Opps! Helena has just appeared on the screen! There is one person who should
have a ton to say for sure!!

On 1/5/07, White, Phillip <> wrote:
> Mike - sorry about the argument - and it's a familiar one for
> me - even hear it from teachers - and those who present the argument
> that unions are the problem are really not familiar with the history of why
> teachers took up unions, back in the 30's.
> however, the bigger difficulty for me is that people suggest a single
> cause and effect answer for why schools are in trouble - and historically
> schools have always been in trouble.
> this is just off the top of my head - i'll go back to the article for
> direct answers to your questions - and they're great questions.
> phillip
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Mike Cole
> Sent: Fri 1/5/2007 4:33 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Cc:;
> Subject: [xmca] Cobb & McClain from a different perspective
> Last night I had dinner with an early mentor and friend, Dick Atkinson,
> who
> was head of NSF, UCSD, and UC overall and has taken a lot of
> interest in things educational.
> We got into an argument about school reforms and Dick, a strong advocate
> of
> charter schools and variety creating mechanisms opined that
> "The problem was the unions."
> I argued that indeed, in some configurations of circumstances made unions
> uncooperative with supervisor's grand schemes. Allan Bursin steamrolling
> reforms in San Diego was an example.
> But, I also argued, that when reforms were organized in a proper manner,
> unions were NOT a problem and in fact, might be an important part of the
> solution.
> I have sent him the Cobb and McClain piece to think about.
> Question: What was the role of the unions in the case presented by Cobb
> and
> McClain? What does their experience teach us about dealing with draconian
> accountability schemes and "better" school as tightening the screws that
> hold together the iron cage??
> mike
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