I Support Kyle Williams for Secretary of Education.

Yup.  THAT Kyle Williams.  Defensive Tackle for the Buffalo Bills:









(Image licensed Creative Commons Attribution by Jeffrey Beall)

Now I know what you are thinking:  Why the HECK would we ever want to name an NFL player to such an important position in the federal government?  How is THAT guy qualified?

My snarky answer:  “Come ON.  Qualifications?  Did you see who we elected president?”

(I didn’t say that out loud, did I?)

But if you’re the kind of person that IS all hung up on qualifications, check out how Williams — an impact player for the Bills for over a decade who wasn’t given much of a chance at a meaningful career when he was drafted out of LSU in 2006 because his arms weren’t as long as they were supposed to be to play defensive tackle in the NFL — described the role that metrics should play in judging NFL prospects in a recent interview with the Buffalo News:

“So I really didn’t much care what anybody’s opinion was about whether I could or couldn’t play because nobody else knew. ‘All right, well, his arms are an inch and a half short.’ There’s a lot more involved in this game you can’t measure than what you can. That’s what makes players great. What gives guys longevity are the things they can’t put their finger on or put their stopwatch to.”

Williams is right, isn’t he?  Success in the NFL isn’t dependent on the length of  some guy’s arms.  But as ridiculous as that may sound, that’s EXACTLY why Williams slipped to the fifth round in the draft. 

Now translate that argument to education.  In our quest to rank and sort and rate schools and teachers and kids, we’ve put a hell of a lot of weight on metrics (read:  standardized test scores).  We celebrate schools and teachers and kids who do well on those metrics — and we shame and punish those who don’t.  But ask ANYONE with common sense and a bit of experience and they can give you a LIST of schools and teachers and students who were remarkably successful in spite of their “scores.”  Better yet, they can also give you a LIST of schools and teachers and students who earned the highest marks but were complete failures.

So what’s my point?  

Simple:  There’s a lot more involved in OUR game that you can’t measure than what you can.  What’s more, the things that make schools and teachers and kids great are rarely measurable — and the things we CAN measure aren’t all that important.

That’s a message that every #edpolicy maker needs to hear if we are going to create the kinds of learning spaces that students deserve.




Related Radical Reads:

Lessons Schools Can Learn from the Pittsburgh Steelers

I Wouldn’t Want to Work with Walter Payton.

Lessons #edpolicy Nation Can Learn from Andrew Luck


4 thoughts on “I Support Kyle Williams for Secretary of Education.

  1. Daniel

    Although you should have gone for a Carolina Panther analogy I completely agree that metrics set will prove to be easy for some, doable for others and unrealistic for many.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Pal,

      If I were going to write a Panthers analogy, it would have to be about the complete meltdown of public schools, don’t you think?!


  2. concretekax


    I agree with your thoughts here. Just disappointed that you didn’t point out that he has as much experience as Betsy Devos in education. She is a total disaster, but maybe you were trying to avoid the politics 🙂

    It does tie into the testing though, because one of the main agendas of the testing is to make public schools look bad so that they can promote “choice” to other schools…


    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Mike,

      I’m with you about DeVos. And as a Michigan guy, I bet you could tell us all some horror stories. I’m honestly not sure how public schools continue to survive in such negative cultures. It’s exhausting and dispiriting on a good day.

      Hope you are well,

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