Friday, February 24, 2012

Policy “Reversals”: the Bane of “True Believers”

“We need creativity in order to break free from the temporary structures that have been set up by a particular sequence of experience.” -- Edward de Bono
Poor President Obama. He wants to get things done. He strategically accommodates the opposition when his own forces cannot overwhelm it. At least for the moment.

This drives his “purist” supporters crazy. Surely, they insist, you can fertilize the fields without getting your hands dirty! Surely, there must be some way of making an omelette without damaging an egg!

American public education has long served two incompatible but desirable goals: providing equal educational opportunity to all students and providing each student with an education suited to his individual needs.

At different stages in its development, America’s educational system has emphasized one or the other of these goals and generated ideology which served to celebrate the emphasis, e.g., "a thorough and efficient education for all children.”

Not too long after, a big switch happened. We were bombarded with “individualizing instruction”, that is, “different strokes for different folks,” or “fair is not necessarily equal.”

Is such “flip-flopping” a sign of weakness; or, of wisdom?

To examine these issues further, see Mechanisms for Policy Reversal