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Thompson: Take A Breather, School "Reformers"

Python_1The Fordham Flypaper's Mike Petrilli says that reformers are ready to take "a breather." In "What's Next on the School Reform Agenda?" Petrilli writes, "Like a snake that's just swallowed a deer, most reformers (and the education system itself) simply can't take anything else on right now."

He then lists pension reform, digital learning, teacher preparation, and principal licensure as areas that some members of the PIE Network see as the next waves of reform.  I am not qualified to say much about pensions or digital learning proposals, so, in contrast to reformers who love to micromanage areas where they have little practical knowledge, I will remain silent on them.  But, I agree with Petrilli that teacher preparation is "a natural outgrowth of reformers’ obsession with teacher evaluations," and the second area raises the question, “are principals the new teachers?” It sounds like an effort to do to principals what they have been forced to do to teachers. 

Petrilli then makes the sensible suggestion that the next wave of reform should be finance reform.  I have doubts about much of Petrilli's proposal, but that is not the point.  School reformers should shift their attention to issues that they are qualified to analyse.  Let them bone up on state governance issues and get involved with macro finance debates, while avoiding micro issues in the types of schools that they never attended, and classrooms where they have little or no experience.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

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Micromanage? I very much doubt that reformers came into your school and forced the principal to shunt difficult kids into dead-end classes or forced the school to be chaotic or forced the school to play games with evaluating teachers or that reformers created any of the problems you constantly complain about. If you have better ideas on how to do things, get somebody in your school interested in trying them out instead of wasting your breath blaming outside agitators.

Next we'll see increased movement from traditional classroom structures to learning in a variety of environments with pbl. I believe this movement will create a consortium of educational institutions working together including schools, universities, museums, farms, parks, historic sites and more. This movement does not have to be overly expensive, instead it will mean that resources are spent differently. This movement will deepen and strengthen engagement, creativity and real world learning for students of all ages.

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