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Introduction: Strategies for Fixing Failing Public Schools

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Note: This FORUM originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 1998, print edition of Education Week and is reprinted here as a courtesy for our readers. The content of the FORUM is an advertisement prepared by the participating organization. Education Week does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the statements and/or any views or opinions expressed therein.

I n the summer of 1998, the Pew Forum on Standards-Based Reform convened a meeting of two dozen leading policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to review and analyze alternative strategies for improving persistently failing schools. This meeting was designed to follow up a 1997 meeting on the same topic the Forum co-sponsored with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Rather than attempt to craft a consensus meeting report that would inevitably paper over significant differences of opinion among the meeting participants, the Forum asked Ron Wolk, former publisher and editor of Education Week, to develop a short essay reflecting his own analysis and conclusions, based not only upon the Forum's deliberations but on his own reading, observations, and reflections. We hope Ron's essay will help policymakers and practitioners clarify their thinking about the nature of the problem of persistently failing schools, and that such thinking will lead to more effective strategies for action.

Founded in 1990, the Pew Forum on Standards-Based Reform is a joint venture of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and the Stanford University School of Education. It is sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Forum regularly convenes three dozen of the nation's leading policymakers, researchers, and practitioners for extended seminars on the most challenging aspects of implementing systemic, standards-based school reform. In addition to the seminars and occasional publications associated with them, the Forum actively participates in and supports implementation efforts in several states and cities that are vigorously engaged in reform. The purpose of the Forum's various initiatives is to increase the effectiveness of standards-based reform by rigorously examining cutting edge research, policy and practice, then helping policymakers shape these elements into comprehensive strategies that serve all children.

Milbrey W. McLaughlin, Co-Chair,
Stanford University School of Education

Robert B. Schwartz, Co-Chair,
Harvard University
Graduate School of Education

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