>At 04:43 PM 1/10/2013, Haim wrote: >> The history of education reform is long and detailed. >> It is a history of unrelieved failure. Precisely >> because this history is so well known, when somebody >> comes along, like a Walter Annenberg, Bill Gates, Eli >> Broad, or Michelle Rhee, and claims to want to reform >> the existing public school system, I wonder what they >> are really after.
>I am cynical but not that cynical. I think they all mean >well...
It is flatly impossible. Wayne, your hypothesis very likely describes what happened the first time. That is, when the first rich white man pumped his first million dollars into the first reform effort, back before The Flood. Today, however, there have been too many rich white men pumping too many millions of dollars into too many efforts over too many years at reforming American public education. To suggest what you are suggesting is to ignore a very long and very detailed and very well known history.
Who does this? Who starts a program of reform without first asking what happened the last ten times somebody tried to reform public education? Furthermore, every serious executive knows the importance of gathering people of opposing views into the decision-making process. Presidents of The Republic do this; CEO's do this; general officers do this.
It is perfectly clear, in other words, that in the matter of education reform, a man like Bill Gates is behaving in a way strictly contrary to everything he had ever done as the architect of one of the most successful companies in recent history. Even if he were a wide-eyed naif when first starting down the road of education reform, how long could it possibly take him to figure it out?
This much we know for sure: the man is not an idiot. The only reasonable assumption is that if we can figure it out, Bill Gates can figure it out. It took our Bob Hansen about one year to figure it out. Bill Gates has been at it for almost 20 yrs. How slow a learner do you think he is?
Wayne, I am appealing to your common sense. Which do you think is more likely, that Bill Gates (or Walter Annenberg, or Eli Broad, or any of the other rich white men who have tried their hand at education reform) cannot learn or that he has another agenda? Were they all idiots?
Of course I am not saying that Bill Gates is against reform. Unless someone has specific knowledge to the contrary, I am sure that Gates would be delighted if something good came out of his education reform efforts. But, clearly, education reform cannot be his primary goal.
Furthermore, as I have pointed out a few times, we have many examples of real institutional change. They never involve trying to change the corporate culture of an individual organization. Invariably, when serious people want serious change, they create new institutions.
Recent American examples are the Department of Homeland Security and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In each case, Congress was not going to spend the next 20 yrs begging and pleading and haranguing the SEC and the INS for the changes they wanted. Congress wanted change, they wanted it now, so they created new agencies and hired new people to do the job they want done. One could go on and on with such examples, in the U.S. and around the world.
Seen in its historical and social context, nothing about education reform, as it is currently being practiced, rings true. Nobody throws good money after bad, forever. Exactly what these "reformers" really want I can only guess at, but it cannot be reform as you and I understand the concept.