Wendy Lecker: Education reformers need to step aside
Greenwich Time By Wendy Lecker Updated 7:02 pm EST, Saturday, February 1, 2020
So-called education “reformers” have had a stranglehold on state and federal education policy for almost 20 years. They imposed a myopic focus on student performance on narrow academic outcomes — measuring school and teacher “effectiveness” based on annual standardized test scores in math and English. The solutions to low scores were blaming and firing teachers, and sanctioning schools with reorganization, takeover and/or privatization.
These reformers charged that educators who recognized the effect of out-of-school factors on learning were merely using poverty as an excuse. The status quo needed to be disrupted with their brand of innovation. They claimed that their test-based reforms would achieve excellence for every student no matter what their life circumstances.
None of these reforms were based on any evidence they would work. And, after two decades, the reform house of cards is crumbling. When reformers were given free rein to implement their schemes, they failed. For example, Broad-trained Chris Barbic ran Tennessee’s Achievement School District into the ground. Upon his departure, he observed that when he does not get to cherry-pick his students, but rather has to educate all students, his “reforms” do not work. Noted reformer Jay Greene recently came to the belated realization that test scores do not correspond to “changing later life outcomes,” such as high school graduation, college attendance or gainful employment.
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