Education Letter to the Editor

There Is No Silver-Bullet ‘Reform’

April 10, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To The Editor:

In the Jan. 17 article “How Much Reform Is Too Much? Teachers Weigh In,” —the opening statement that “change is hard, particularly for teachers” puts the blame on teachers again by suggesting that teachers are somehow unable to adapt to progress. This attitude is at the heart of why our schools have not improved or moved in a positive direction since the Sputnik era.

For five decades, we have designed a multitude of new improvement cures, with a recent focus on “fixing” (mostly female) teachers who just can’t cut it. Yet, teachers are eager to change when “cures” are based on proven research and promote successful learning for all students with a variety of needs, such as learning difficulties, mental-health issues, and poverty.

School communities must address reasonable class size and the number of students a teacher teaches in a day. Appropriate teaching tools and materials, adequate facilities, student mental-health support, family social-work support, and improved school nutrition go a lot further than another round of testing, report cards, and another politicized round of national reforms.

The only successful school improvements happen at the school site and in every teacher’s classroom. In the article, 68 percent of teachers report that new reforms or changes aren’t really new, that “they’ve all been tried before.” Why do we keep promoting “reforms” that do not work? Because these initiatives are not reforms. They are political movements created by politicians and lobbyists who use notions of change that are not research based.

Education improvements must focus on the needs of the school, principal, teachers, and students. Magical government fixes do not exist. After a half-century of inadequate attempts to improve, you would think that by now we could dramatically shift our focus and support to where the true work is completed every day: in the schoolhouse.

David R. Tobergte

Senior Teaching Professor of Educational Administration

Xavier University

Cincinnati, Ohio

Shirley Curtis

Teaching Professor of Educational Administration

Xavier University Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 2018 edition of Education Week as There Is No Silver-Bullet ‘Reform’


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: October 11, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 27, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 20, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week