Monday, December 19, 2011

In Kim Jung Il Education Reform Has Lost a Friend

In our country, we pride ourselves on our meager attempts to bring common core standards to the American education system.  In North Korea, 10,000 school girls will cry for 48 hours in tribute to their fallen leader.  North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il was a despot, but the education reform movement owes a great deal of thanks to North Korea's enigmatic little leader.

When Mayor Bloomberg in New York announces that he would like to fire half the city's teachers and double class size or when Mayor Emanuel in Chicago closes down those schools that have displeased him, I can't help, but see a little bit of beloved leader there.  Like him or not, Kim was the master of doing things his own way because it was good for the people of North Korea.  Some people may have thought he was crazy to kidnap a movie director to make a Godzilla ripoff for him, but he thought it was good for the people of Korea.  His $700,000 annual liquor tab was just the kind of cost overrun so many great reformers have dealt with. 

According to North Korean historical literature, "Kim Jong Il was born in a log cabin inside a secret base on Korea’s most sacred mountain, Mt. Paekdu. At the moment of his birth, a bright star lit up the sky, the seasons spontaneously changed from winter to spring, and rainbows appeared."

I can't be the only person who is reminded of Michelle Rhee's description of her teaching career in Baltimore when I read that paragraph.  Historical accounts may contradict both stories, but perception is everything in the reform game or when running a country.  Kim reportedly shot 11 holes in one the first time her played golf.   Surely, Michelle Rhee could get behind that kind of creative erasing as well.

As the national of North Korean mourns, the country's leadership will be placed in the hands of Kim Jong Un.  One of Un's classmates said of him, ""He left without getting any exams at all. He was much more interested in  basketball than lessons."  As stories of Un's intensity on the basketball court, I couldn't help thing that North Korea will be OK.  Afterall, just look at how Arne Duncan has parlayed a similar skill set.

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