Finding Common Grounds on Education Reform

Rick Hess and Linda Darling-Hammond bridge their political differences to write a remarkable opinion piece on education reform in the US. 

Beyond this list, the federal government is simply not well situated to make schools and teachers improve — no matter how much ambitious reformers wish it were otherwise. Under our system, dictates from Congress turn into gobbledygook as they travel from the Education Department to state education agencies and then to local school districts. Educators end up caught in a morass of prescriptions and prohibitions, bled of the initiative and energy that characterize effective schools.

The federal government can make states, localities and schools do things — but not necessarily do them well. Since decades of research make it clear that what matters for evaluating employees or turning around schools is how well you do it — rather than whether you do it a certain way — it’s not surprising that well-intentioned demands for “bold” federal action on school improvement have a history of misfiring. They stifle problem-solving, encourage bureaucratic blame avoidance and often do more harm than good.        

 

One thought on “Finding Common Grounds on Education Reform

  1. “Under our system, dictates from Congress turn into gobbledygook as they travel from the Education Department to state education agencies and then to local school districts. ”
    This line really rings true for me, but not just for federal mandates, but also for theories in a variety of forms. Cluster grouping models, for gifted education, for example, with start out with some theoretical support, but then die under the weight of a thousand feathers as “minor” changes are made. The same thing seems to have happened as the immersion language education models used in early childhood language instruction were morphed into a couple of hours a week of enrichment (but with parental expectations that there will be proficiency)

    Like

Comments are closed.