The reference to puzzle pieces is one I have used for a long time. When I was preparing my dissertation defenses, I used the metaphor of a puzzle. I was trying to get some sense of how middle school kids thought about reading. I was using two separate instruments, one intended to assess attitude toward reading and the other trying to pin down some sort of "definition" of reading on the part of the middle school kids. As I approached the subject, I knew I was trying to piece together a more complete picture. And even as I finished writing about the 1200 respondents and their thoughts and feelings, I still was piecing things together. It's kind of like all those school pictures of our kids. You know the ones. I have them in an album: snapshots from first grade to high school graduation (and one from college graduation so far as well). None of them are a complete picture of the kid. Even if I were to somehow be able to meld them all together, it would not be the complete picture.
But back to the topic at hand: education "reform." Crazy Crawfish does a terrific job in assembling lots of pieces here: value-added, vouchers/charters/choice, data, curriculum, alternative certification, and more. We could add to this list, but is that not the point? There are so many pieces that it seems we are always having to move the borders and edges further apart, get a larger surface on which to work, and change our idea of what that final puzzle might actually be a picture of (ouch, awkward sentence!). We are being asked right now in Texas to comment on new directions in teacher education programs. This goes beyond alt cert to something that is in such a jumble I am not sure what it will look like. It is another PIECE of this whole PUZZLE.
I know one thing for certain: this will NOT be a picture of the kids. While politicians and reformers all cry that it is FOR THE KIDS, I do not see much in the pieces that indicate this is actually a focus. I see focus on curriculum alignment, data points, tests, textbooks. And perhaps this is purposeful as Crazy Crawfish suggests. If we keep having to bat away the little gnats (pieces), how can we ever defeat the fire breathing monster whose aim it is to destroy free, equal, public education for all?