No Silver Bullets for School Reform

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To the Editor:

In a recent opinion piece on the website Truthout ("Mr. President, Education Is a Human Right, Not a Product," Jan. 10, 2013), Bill Ayers articulates the consequences of using a business model and metric evaluation of education. Viewing educational policy through these lenses has made the educational community second-guess itself—wasting valuable time and, perhaps, billions of dollars on misguided reforms. The flaw is not in the ideas, but in their implementation.

I think it is important for the readers ofEducation Week to know that there is a role for private investment and innovation in education, for a dialogue between the educational establishment and the clients it serves, and for appropriate measurement of student achievement and the efficient use of public funds. Absent, however, has been the inclusion of meaningful input from those with the ultimate responsibility for making educational policies work: teachers and parents.

To improve education, we must do it school by school, from the bottom up, from the inside out, and with the moral commitment and enthusiasm of the principal players: teachers, the students, their families, and the communities they serve.

The commonality between school improvement and the politics of educational policy is that both are local. Improving education cannot be accomplished by the president, governors, mayors, or corporations. School improvement cannot be measured by either snapshot metrics or guided legislative mandates, nor can it be accomplished with competitive grants or the adoption of a program. School improvement is about hard work, involving those closest to the problem and using what we know will work. There are no silver bullets.

Henry G. Cram
Middle States Association
Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools
Philadelphia, Pa.
The author has worked as a teacher, administrator, and school superintendent.

Vol. 32, Issue 20, Page 30

Published in Print: February 6, 2013, as No Silver Bullets For School Reform
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