Tuesday, February 12, 2019

School Reform in the U.S.: Naivete and Fatalism | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

School Reform in the U.S.: Naivete and Fatalism | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
School Reform in the U.S.: Naivete and Fatalism


If naivete is a danger, so is fatalism.”*
The history of school reform has been a back-and-forth journey between hyperactive innocence and passive resignation. I will explain this and give examples shortly but I want to ask one question and then make one fact clear before I do.
Why has school reform occurred again and again? One would think that reformers who have defined the educational and social problems to be solved, planned solutions to those problems, and adopted remedies would be satisfied and walked away confident that the problems would disappear. Not so. Turns out that the social and educational problems reformers, generation after generation, aim to solve hang around after well-intentioned problem-solvers exit. Then another generation of wannabe reformers enter stage right or stage left, do their thing and float off the stage (see herehere, and here).
The fact is that for tax-supported public schools in the U.S. there has been a perennial school “crisis” since the late-19th century (see herehere, and here). Naive reformers have attacked (and continue to) with gusto and money again and again, “crises”, leaving disappointed practitioners, parents, and researchers slinking away, resigned to failure in the wake of perverse changes they had not anticipated. The above quote says it well.
Some examples of dangerous naivete and fatalism will help.
Naivete:
1. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million grant to the Newark public schools in 2010. With an additional $100 million raised in private funds, reformers closed Newark schools, created more charters, and vowed to improve abysmal student test scores in math and reading. Mayor Cory Booker, Governor Chris Christie, and others hailed the grants. However, much pushback from a subsequent mayor, community activists, and parents, largely ignored by the donors in giving  CONTINUE READING: School Reform in the U.S.: Naivete and Fatalism | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice


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