Reformers’ Occupational Hazards: Innocence and Failure

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Coming up on year three of the Covid-19 pandemic, school reformers want the crisis to become an opportunity for re-doing public schools. If only these pandemic-inspired reformers knew the past (see here and here).

The history of school reform has been a back-and-forth journey between hyperactive innocence and passive resignation. I will explain this and give examples shortly but I want to ask one question and then make one fact clear before I do.

Why has school reform occurred again and again? One would think that reform-minded policymakers and deep pocket donors who have not only defined educational and social problems to be solved, planned solutions to those problems, and adopted remedies–would be satisfied and walk away confident that the problems would disappear. Not so. Turns out that the social and educational problems reformers, generation after generation, aim to solve hang around after well-intentioned problem-solvers exit. Then amid…

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