October 23, 1996

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Vol. 16, Issue 08
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To a surprising degree, American school reform has begun to parallel developments already occurring in Britain. As a result, much can be learned from the British experience, as Kathryn Stearns shows in her recent report for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, "School Reform: Lessons from England." The future direction of reform in both countries is less clear, however, because of uncertainty about what will happen if and when the major opposition parties take control of government.
As children, we were young, innocent, and prone to infatuations. Of course, we certainly did not recognize it at the time. Our devotions were passionate, totally consuming, and held in staunch resistance to alternative points of view. We saw positive qualities only and were blind to faults, regardless of how blatant or obvious to others. What imperfections we did notice were dismissed as inconsequential and unimportant.
If it illustrates nothing else, this year's presidential campaign spotlights anew the gap between what voters claim to care about and what candidates think will get them elected. In poll after poll, we routinely put education at the top of our worry lists, and the pundits concur. Then, while professing their profound commitments to improving the schools, the campaigners shove intelligent debate on them aside in favor of anything they think will grab voters. Polls or no polls, education reform, especially in urban America, is a near-guaranteed turnoff. In the argot of the 1990s, this is a disconnect, big-time.
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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