This is part one of a series in which I imagine what would happen if an alien visited the United States to understand school reform.
The alien, seeking to start a formal schooling system on his home planet, decided it would be wise to tour an Earthbound nation for ideas. ANN – Alien News Network – had run many stories about Earth’s educational systems, but the one that intrigued the alien the most was the United States’. After all, the alien, a democrat and believer in change, was an admirer of the U.S. president, Barack Obama. He was also, like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a basketball fan (although he never played because of the lack of gravity on his home planet. He didn’t like the Bulls, by the way. He went for the Knicks).
So the alien, with his diplomatic connections, placed a phone call to the Department of Education. Duncan answered.
“Arne,” said the alien, “I keep hearing so much about all the changes happening in your country’s schools.”
“Alien,” said Arne, “We are changing so much. We are really doing wonderful work. Of course, I can’t take the credit. After all, educational policies have to be determined by states!”
“Of course, of course. No one argues that,” replied the alien. “Say, Arne, would you be able to fit me in for a visit to your nation’s schools? I know you’re busy reading Race to the Top applications and No Child Left Behind waivers…”
“And appearing on The Daily Show!” the Secretary interjected.
“Oh, yes. I saw that, too. All this while creating better conditions for students, too. Truly amazing.”
“Thank you,” Duncan said.
“Anyway, Arne, what do you say? Can I fly down for a few days and visit some of your best schools? We are really dying for great ideas out here.”
“Absolutely. We’d love to have you. We believe the American model is truly the answer to all of our society’s issues – joblessness, poverty, global warming -mainly because education is the only issue! We are really moving mountains here, preparing our students for the challenges of the 21st century job market. When you come, I’ll show you how we are preparing students. But yes, come down next week. I’ll be thrilled to have you.”
“Sounds great. I’ll be there. Looking forward to seeing some of your wonderful American ideas in action.”
“I think you’ll agree we are moving in the right direction,” replied the Secretary.
To be continued…