Mike Klonsky’s Small Talk attacks Bill Evers, recently appointed assistant Education secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, as a right-wing political hack and neocon ideologist with anarcho-capitalist roots.
(Evers) was one of Paul Bremer’s boys at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, where he was hired to write propaganda pieces to support the invasion. In other words, he’s a war planner and a counter-insurgency expert.
Klonsky also misreads Evers’ comments in National Review praising the decision to eliminate “social justice” references from the Iraqi Constitution. Evers wrote:
… The drafting committee seems to have realized that “social justice” can become a replacement for real justice. Real justice means rendering to every person his due. A rhetoric of social justice sets the stage for conflict among groups over privileges.
In This Week on Education, which linked to Small Talk, I wrote in the comments that I’ve known Bill Evers since I started on the Stanford Daiy when I was a freshman. Evers is not a neocon or an anarcho-capitalist, I wrote. He’s certainly not a war planner or counter-insurgency expert.
He is a long-time libertarian who has made education reform his main focus for many years now.
Evers went to Iraq to help recreate the education system after the fall of Saddam Hussein. He wasn’t writing press releases. He was driving around to visit schools to make sure the school really existed, deliver payroll to teachers and find out about critical needs (chairs, books, running water). He didn’t want Iraq to be fed a trendy “social justice” curriculum by U.S “experts” who didn’t have a clue what Iraqis need or want. He thought it was important for Iraqis to take charge of education policy.
If people want to attack Evers for being a libertarian, that’s entirely fair. Or if his old Cato buddies want to attack him for not being libertarian enough — he’s very involved in math education not just in school choice — well, OK. Educators could say that he’s a political scientist, not a former K-12 teacher, which is true.
And he used to work for the Cato Institute. A right-wing hack, no.
This sort of attack is dangerous because it implies that education policy is about right-wing Republican Bush lovers vs. left-wing (or “progressive”) Democratic Bush haters. Most of the policy issues out there — such as how best to teach math or reading — predated the ascendancy of George W. Bush and have nothing to do with political parties. Or Iraq. When they talk to each other, people of different political persuasions often agree on education policy. We need more talk, less ranting.