Fixing Broken Schools: The "Don't Mess With Us" Challenge
Bill Gates talk in 2008 -- is that these pockets of promise represent both an opportunity and a challenge: how to make things better over all without steamrolling (or being steamrolled by) pockets of excellence?
“The problem we tend to run into is that the most influential and well-educated people either have their kids in private schools, or they have their kids in an enclave inside the high school that are called honor’s courses, where the teaching is pretty decent and so, if we go to a school and say, let’s change things here, they say, no way, you’re going to mess our little enclave up. All the kids go through the same front door, but really it’s a separate school inside there that’s allowing us not to be part of that insanity, and so don’t mess with the thing that works well for us. And I do think, if you want to stand up to some of the practices that are not focused on the needs of the students, you need a broad set of parents. I think we’re very weak on this point.”
I'm usually more than happy to criticize the Gates Foundation's efforts and approach, but I see this as a pretty honest, reflective assessment of a challenge that reformers are still coming to terms with.