Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why School Reform Fails

Why school reform has failed.
After over a decade of test driven accountability, schools serving poor and minority students are not improved.  Why?
The people in charge of the reform, from No child Left Behind, to state developed accountability systems, and now the Race to the Top program,  are the same people who created the present  failing system.
They will not improve the system.
Reform has been stopped by the power of those in charge- they want to keep things as they are.  They think within the narrow confines of school interventions which maintain their own positions and their own leadership advantages.  So, “professionals” with a focus and training emphasizing limited views of research and testing, derive limited interventions which emphasize testing and measurement.  The last two decades of school reform have followed this direction. The post below  by Jim Crawford on the lack of evidence to support the proposed Race to the Top interventions illustrates this failure.



Anglo centered, culturally myopic, power centered, controlling, reductionist,  in the hands of the past generation.  They have refused to consider and allow to develop the culturally responsive strategies we know are necessary.  To pursue new strategies would require first that they understand the proposed changes and second that the proposed changes would continue them in the roles of leaders.  This has not happened,
One limit is that there has been little clear development of the multicultural alternatives.
While preparation ideas abound, the many subtle acts and interventions that skilled teachers use in their interactions are simply not described. =perhaps they are not describable. The issues are too complex and inter active.  Teachers can learn dozens of interactions and use them, but without a controlled and limited environment these strategies collectively lead to improved achievement, but we can not detail which intervention  made the difference.
The “ reformers” as recognized by mainstream media  can only recognize their own narrow ideological positions, dominated by positivism, and low level of testing, low quality assessments.
By holding on to these narrow- and failed- accountability measures, they have dramatically restricted teaching strategies to those that produce only marginal gains. But, their own narrow research paradigms de legitimate alternative views. And, they have failed.
   And, as developed in several posts here, there is the problem of poverty.  The U.S. has one of the most severe childhood poverty records in the developed world. It is precisely schools in these neighborhoods that fail.  The media approved "reformers" chant - no excuses.  But, that is because they don't work in schools held down by poverty.  More on this in other posts.
Excerpts from Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. 4th. edition. 2020.
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