Why Is Reform So Hard?



By 07/01/2010

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Many people find it hard to believe that student performance has been flat for four decades when we have more than tripled funding for schools and when we have put into place a number of reform measures.  Those facts are clear, but the explanation is less clear.

The recent discussions in Congress, however, shed some light on this.  The discussions of teacher layoffs have led Congressman Obey to try to find money to avert any dismissals of teachers.  In order to be revenue neutral, however, he must come up with budgetary savings.  Where does he look?  Why, to reducing funds for Race to the Top, teacher incentives, and charter schools.  In other words, a simple trade is proposed:  sacrifice innovation and reform when there is a threat to maintaining the status quo of current hiring.

When push comes to shove, it is appears that it is not about the kids–it is about the adults.  More charitably, we might conclude that just slowing down the pace of innovation is appropriate in the face of the potential job losses.  But that brings us back to history.  There never appears to be a time for real reform.




Comment on this article
  • Terry Daughery says:

    Yes, having students in larger classrooms is all about the adults. Yes, cutting Art and Music programs is all about the adults. Keeping Race to the Top is all about kids, or kids and the Edubusiness that is making money off of Race to the Top.

  • puzzle palace rat says:

    This blurb stumbles over its own inconsistencies. It begins by admitting that 4 decades of “reform” have not worked:

    “Many people find it hard to believe that student performance has been flat for four decades … when we have put into place a number of reform measures. ”

    Then questions why we should “sacrifice innovation and reform when there is a threat to [keeping teachers in classrooms].”

    Sorry, but at risk of stating the obvious, given the sorry history of “reform,” might we not have slight reason to be sceptical of the latest?

    Oh, sorry, forgot, it’s “real reform” this time.

  • Lisa Jones says:

    When you state “slowing down the pace of innovation is appropriate in the face of the potential job losses” you assume that innovation HAS to cost alot. I don’t believe that.

  • D says:

    Imagine the coxts saved by dismantling NCLB as well! Students would not only benefit from having their uniqueness identified and addressed in educational planning but schools and the public would be spared misleading data. When or if reforms are based on ludicrous goals and platforms, why support it? I tend to opine education is not about the students anymore, : it has become about political gain via the selective use of data to create illusions.. It is all about politics.

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