Many in the education reform community have been engaged in quite a debate on what reform is, who is involved, and how we should respond to one another. Eduflack wrote about this some last month, but not nearly as eloquently as others.
Over at Education Week this week, the esteemed Rick Hess took his electronic pen to the issue, noting that from his perch, education reform is the new education school. Hess makes a number of keen observations, including:
- Orthodoxy reigns without being formally demanded or commanded
- Open disagreement about values is deemed unpleasant and unnecessary
- Inconvenient critiques are seen as a failure to “get it”
- Faddism reigns
- Race, poverty, and privilege are the “right” way to think about school improvement
In reflecting on his our disillusion with the education school community, Hess concludes:
Yep. It all feels eerily familiar. That is a huge problem for reformers. It has undermined the healthy competition of ideas. It has weakened the ability to sustain bipartisan cooperation. It has rendered the space less hospitable to young minds who may not share the current orthodoxy. I hope that school reformers will find ways to address this. After all, at the turn of the century, the “reform” community offered an alternative to the ed school orthodoxy. I don’t know where today’s disenchanted reformers might look for refuge.
I wish it wasn’t the case, but as someone who once was on the front lines in the education reform fights, I can say that his five key observations are right on the money. And for the future of education and school improvement, that’s just a cryin’ shame.