Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is Reform Really Needed At Your School?

A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past.
-- Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983), The Passionate State of Mind, 1954

Almost anything can be changed into what someone thinks is “better.” But at what cost? And to whom? A lot of school reform has created more problems than it has solved. Workable programs have been sacrificed to the pursuit of something “better.” Usually, those who were enthusiastic about the “better” program are no longer around to help pick up the pieces of school programs they destroyed.

There are some questions you might consider before jumping into school reform. Don’t just do it because someone says it needs to be done. Consider the following questions:
a. Is the so-called reform's goal something nebulous and subject to different interpretations, e.g. "getting an education that will enable a student to compete in the 21st Century?" Whose crystal ball should we consult? Unless this "goal" can be tied down to specific testable goals, forget it. It's political puffery! (Or a sales pitch!)

b. Do you need something new to reach a particular goal? (Or will a modification in a present program likely serve as well?)

c. Someone says a dire situation threatens: you have to do something! But, is the threat imminent? Is it probable? Is it real?

d. Is there agreement among the powerholders in your community that the proposed reform should be implemented?

Unless you can get a substantial number of yes-es to the questions above, you might as well relax. Read a good book. Or go fishing.

To pursue this line of thought see The Need for and Possibilities of Educational Reform

-- EGR