September 9, 1992

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Vol. 12, Issue 1
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Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history, late last month delivered a knockout blow that wreaked hundreds of millions of dollars in damage on schools and displaced tens of thousands of students in Florida and Louisiana.
Although the public supports efforts to improve schools and believes they need more funding, it lacks confidence in the ability of political leaders to effect change in education, according to the annual Gallup Poll on education.
For precollege health educators, whose daily lesson plans include such emotionally loaded topics as sex, contraception, drug, and abortion, knowing how to navigate controversy successfully is an essential job skill.
Unless and until the American public comes to know much more than it now does about the institution of education, I fear for any attempts at school reform. We may make some gains here and there, but substantive and systemic changes will not occur. People simply do not know enough about the problems facing schools or about possible solutions to them. They don't know about alternatives to present practice, which, in most places, differs little from the kind of schooling they encountered years or even decades ago.
September, for teachers, is the cruelest month. With each "new'' academic year (beginning, ironically, in the season of ripeness and decline) is reborn the hope that young people known not to gold or apple will change colors, bear fruit. A romance of transformation--our faith that each session brings change in students--both sustains and frustrates our teaching.
Go to any major conference of education groups, often attended by thousands of members, and there in a very large exhibit hall is a collection of booths filled with the wares that school budgets buy.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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