Andy Rotherham of Bellwether Education has a new article out in the US News & World Report that calls out a little-considered issue in education: the people who are making the decisions about education reform are by and large those people who did well in and enjoyed school. This means that there is a tendency toward a conservative one-size-fits-all solution, rather than an actual emphasis on finding solutions to achievement gaps and a lack of equity.
Following is an excerpt from his article:
Most fundamentally, this mindset means almost everyone in education is focused on how to make an institution that is not enjoyable for many kids work marginally better. That’s basically what the top-performing public schools, be they charter or traditional schools, do now. These schools execute everything better than most, and in the process create schools that work much better than average. But they still fail to engage many students. (Among the abundant ironies is that reform critics deride today’s student testing policies as “one size fits all” while fighting against reforming a system that is itself one size fits all). Rarely does anyone just point out that for a lot of people school is simply unpleasant – or worse.
The solution here should not be anything goes. The lack of rigor underlying a lot of faddish educational ideas is stunning. And the traditional academic experience certainly is good for some students and shouldn’t be tossed aside. But we should be more willing to innovate with genuinely different approaches to education, so long as those approaches are wed to a strong commitment to equity and expand rather than constrict opportunity for young people. Innovation is, of course, challenging in a system where the poor bear the brunt of the failure and affluent communities have little incentive to disrupt a status quo that works quite well for them. It’s not impossible though.
Click below for the full article: