Letter to the Editor: Teaching’s Human Touch

by Scott Cowen | New York Times

To the Editor:

David L. Kirp makes the mistake, common in the charter versus traditional school wars, of impugning the motives of education reformers. Look at the reformers who descended on New Orleans after Katrina — including idealistic Teach for America recruits, established charter organizations like KIPP, and independent visionaries like Ben Marcovitz, founder of Sci Academy, a successful charter. They came because they were drawn to the plight of impoverished, struggling children. The business model of metrics, performance benchmarks and accountability was never a coldhearted, ideologically driven campaign; it was a response to a dysfunctional, corrupt school system.

To suggest that emotional connection can happen only in a traditional school is naïve; the schools of New Orleans, where 91 percent of children attend charters, are full of stories of mentoring, personal attachment and intense involvement.

As educators, we are united in a battle to bring greater success to children born into poverty. Let’s respect an array of evidence-based approaches, and not distract ourselves from the real fight.