John Merrow on ‘The Influence of Teachers,’ Education Debate
Many school district superintendents — and the mayors who appointed them — are demanding teachers be held up to closer scrutiny and tougher accountability while facing possible replacement. In certain cases, even as some school leaders are moving on, parents and community leaders are now watching to see if their successors (who often worked for them or with similarly minded colleagues) will push the same agenda with teachers and schools.
That’s the case in Washington, D.C., with Kaya Henderson, who replaced the controversial Michelle Rhee after she resigned. Paul Vallas, the head of New Orleans’ Recovery School District, will be succeeded by John White of New York City’s Education Department. White worked for New York’s Joel Klein, who was heavily influential in this debate as the chancellor of the largest public school system in the country for eight years. Now, Klein’s embattled successor, Cathie Black, has resigned after just three months on the job and a performance that was widely criticized. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday that she’ll be replaced by his deputy mayor for education, Dennis Walcott.
The NewsHour’s education correspondent, John Merrow, has spent much time in recent years covering these leaders and the controversies surrounding them. In his new book, “The Influence of Teachers,” Merrow looks at that debate and takes a wider perspective about where education is headed. Providing access to knowledge, socialization and custodial care were the three traditional reasons for schooling in the United States, Merrow says. But thanks to technology, schools are no longer the only places that can provide knowledge and socialization. Merrow contends that if schools are relegated to simply providing custodial care, they will be marginal at the task of education.
He stopped by the NewsHour and spoke with Hari Sreenivasan:
Video edited by Justin Scuiletti
Reviews of the book can be found at the International Business Times and the Daily Kos blog. LearningMatters.tv has an archive of the large body of work that John Merrow has produced for the NewsHour.