Thompson: Tracing How "Reform" Went Haywire
According to Steve Brill's Class Warfare, an arcane finding in an academic paper by Tom Kane et. al became the basis of a revolutionary change that even Gates saw as extremely risky. Three like-minded scholars concluded that surprisingly low test score volatility by teachers in the same buildings is evidence that teacher quality must be the key to closing the achievement gap. Then they apparently bought the argument that school districts do not evaluate teachers because it was thought that they "can learn nothing about a teacher's effectiveness." Three years later, they worked to prevent incoming President Obama from being exposed to dissenting opinions, condemning the views of traditional school reformers, like Linda Darling-Hammond, and seeded the Education Department with "trustworthy team players" from the Gates organization. So, the opinions of a few policy theorists about things that " just seemed so obvious" to them weren't subjected to peer review or even robust dissent before being imposed upon the entire nation. Through this path, Obama administration "unleashed a swirl of forces whose ferocity would exceed anything" that even the reform wonks expected.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.