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Thompson: Many "Tissue-Paper" Reforms Unlikely To Last, Says Cuban

Stanford Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban, in Another Educated Guess about Philanthropy and School Reform, looks back at “thirty years of market-driven and donor-supported school reform,” and speculates on the vestiges of reform that he guesses “will be quietly incorporated into public schooling.”

Cuban predicts that charter schools will survive, standardized testing will be scaled back, a downsized version of national curriculum standards will endure, as technology will be routinely used in classrooms. Accountability regulations and penalties will be reduced.

I can live with that. Cuban essentially predicts that we will scale standards-based, outcome-based reforms back to 1990s levels. Those policies could be annoying, but they did not cause the harm inflicted by NCLB and the even worse test, sort, and punish regimes of the Duncan era.

More importantly, he envisions the demise of “the idée fixe of schools concentrating on producing human capital first and civic engagement second or third will persist but lose its potency.” I hope this means that the approach that Cuban has long dismissed as “deputizing” teachers as the agents for countering poverty will be replaced by science-based policies such as early childhood education and full-service community schools.

Most importantly, Cuban predicts: "Other current reforms such as evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores, ending tenure and seniority, calling principals CEOs, and children learning to code will be like tissue-paper reforms of the past (e.g., zero-based budgeting, right- and left-brain teaching) that have been crumpled up and tossed away."

As with previous eras, “bits and pieces” of reforms will stick. But, Cuban guesses that “contemporary policymakers and philanthropists who have invested much time, energy, and monies into these market-driven reforms … will not break out the champagne for these remnants.”-JT (@drjohnthompson)

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