I have singled out Dr. Fisman not because "Clean Out Your Desk" was exceptionally bad but because it was exceptionally representative. If this were an anomaly written by someone who was stupid or incompetent or had a grudge against teachers, it wouldn't be worth anyone's time to discuss, let alone exhaustively rebut it. This is something more disturbing.
David Warsh has drawn a relevant analogy between the reform movement and the run-up to Vietnam:
Remember the recipe for a policy disaster? Start with a handful of policy intellectuals confronting a stubborn problem, in love with a Big Idea. Fold in a bunch of ambitious Ivy League kids who don’t speak the local language. Churn up enthusiasm for the program in the gullible national press – and get ready for a decade of really bad news. Take a look at David Halberstam’s Vietnam classic The Best and the Brightest, if you need to refresh your memory. Or just think back on the run-up to the war in Iraq.The education reform is filled with smart, well-intentioned people like Ray Fisman. Under the circumstances, that doesn't provide much comfort.