Some Thoughts On Ed. Reform…

One of the best pieces I have read on the education reform agenda in our country appeared in The Atlantic a couple weeks ago.  The article, titled The Coming Revolution in Public Education, was written by John Tierney, a former professor and independent school teacher.  

As a father of three chidlren in the K-12 public school system, I wonder how others feel about the direction of our country’s education reform efforts.  It is understandable that a reform agenda that capitalizes on  a scoreboard that tells us which schools (and teachers) are “winning” and “losing,” would be appealing due to its simplicity. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to the current issues that our nation’s schools face and any effort to make it seem otherwise are misguided.

Here are a few excerpts from Tierney’s piece that should cause us all to reflect a bit on the current education agenda:

  • Policies that aim to reduce variability by reducing teacher discretion not only preclude learning from situational adaptation to policy goals, they also can impede effective teaching.”
  • As The Nation magazine reported in 2011: “The research consensus has been clear and unchanging for more than a decade: at most, teaching accounts for about 15 percent of student achievement outcomes, while socioeconomic factors account for about 60 percent.”
  • …these companies (driving ed. reform efforts) are enriching themselves and their executives from taxpayers’ dollars – Pearson’s pre-tax profits soaring by 72 percent in 2011. 
  • If you want to read a detailed and damning appraisal of the secretive and error-ridden testing business, read this 2003 report by Kathleen Rhoades and George Madaus of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. 
  • David Sirota has reported, “The reason America’s overall scores on such tests are far lower is because high poverty schools produce far worse results — and as the most economically unequal society in the industrialized world, we have far more poverty than our competitors, bringing down our overall scores accordingly.” Addressing poverty and inequality are the keys to serving America’s educational needs. 
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