School & District Management Opinion

The Futures of School Reform

The members of the Futures of School Reform Group represented leading thinkers from the academic, business, philanthropic, government, and public-policy sectors. Organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, they contributed to a seven-part opinion series on education reform published in Education Week’s Commentary pages. In this opinion series, they expanded upon and discussed their visions for the future of schools. This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on by visiting our related topic pages: education reform.

Education Opinion Four Paths For the Future
This post describes four possible paths forward towards significant improvement for the school system.
Jal Mehta, June 6, 2011
6 min read
Education Opinion Thank you
By Jal Mehta
As we close the blog, I wanted to thank everyone involved. Elizabeth Rich at Education Week was really important in seeing the potential for this kind of venture, the contributors did their part by laying out a wide range of potential visions, and the commenters have greatly enriched the conversation in their contributions. Helen Malone did great work in administering the blog, as well as writing a post. Thanks also to the Hewlett and Spencer Foundations for funding this work.
Jal Mehta, June 5, 2011
1 min read
Education Opinion Trusting the People Who Do the Work
This post suggests we need to devolve trust from feds and states to districts, from districts to schools, from schools to teachers, and from teachers to students.
Jal Mehta, June 3, 2011
2 min read
Education Opinion Are We on the Wrong Path?
This post looks at international evidence and poses a strong challenge to the American approach to school reform.
Jal Mehta, June 1, 2011
1 min read
Education Opinion What Can the Federal Government Do Well?
This piece offers a quick sketch of what the federal government is well positioned to do in education.
Jal Mehta, May 31, 2011
3 min read
Education Opinion Bolder, Broader Action: Strategies for Closing the Poverty Gap
The inclusion of wraparound services is pragmatic approach to long unaddressed problems in the lives of children, problems that routinely interfere with learning. It's high time that we, as educators, recognize these problems and begin to get more active in working with others to solve them as they constitute such a threat to our achieving our educational aspirations. We must maintain our commitment to high expectations, regular assessments, and accountability. However, we must face up to those factors which are undermining our best instructional intentions.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 27, 2011
9 min read
Education Opinion Joel Klein and the Bureaucratic Mind
No one, I dare to reckon, has accused Joel Klein of possessing a bureaucratic mindset. Let me be the first. I do so because it is one particular aspect of this mindset--a narrow focus on a designated function and set of institutional tools-- that seduces too many well-intentioned reforms to dismiss the "outside-in" consideration of non-school factors that Paul Reville and I argue in our commentary will be a important tools for social intervention in the future of education reform.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 26, 2011
4 min read
Education Opinion Prove It!
A popular phrase coined a few years back, "schools can't do it alone," suggests that we, as a society, place too high of a burden on our schools to both alleviate all the negative influences that play a role in student learning, such as those associated with poverty, and at the same time, prepare every student to access and graduate from college. For schools feeling pressure to "do it all," having community partners that offer learning opportunities, provide enrichment activities, and engage children and youth in positive developmental experiences seems appealing; however, school-community partnerships continue to be sporadic, and the government response to include out-of-school time programs into the education fold continues to be largely haphazard and reactive.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 25, 2011
4 min read
Education Opinion On Time Horizons and Education Outcomes
I believe that much of our current education policy effort is mistakenly adopting a short-term perspective that inadvertently rewards actions with an immediate impact and discounts actions - the same one that most good parents make -- that may germinate for years before blossoming in very important ways.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 24, 2011
3 min read
Education Opinion Closing the Poverty Gap: The Way Forward for Education Reform
We need to reinvent a child development and education system that is equal to the bold aspirations for student success that we appropriately proclaim for the 21st century. All means all.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 23, 2011
6 min read
Education Opinion Dialoguing Our Way to the Future(s)
We need to learn together over time about what combinations of learning opportunities and supports are needed to help all children thrive, and to do this, we need a much more diverse who in the conversation than we currently have, and we need to have real conversations.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 20, 2011
5 min read
Education Opinion Will Big Employers be the Game Changers?
When companies like GE realize that they have significant resources and expertise internally to develop people, and that they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on remediation of their employees AND concurrently investing millions of dollars in the schools where their employees send their kids to try and grow future workers, they may decide to get into the charter school business. One day soon KIPP's biggest "competitor" might be "GE Schools."
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 19, 2011
2 min read
Education Opinion What Happens When Learning Breaks Out in Rural Mexico?
No one has told these students that they cannot control their own learning. No one has "schooled" the adult tutors, who are largely recruited from the rural communities they serve, that they are "unqualified" to teach or to serve as leaders of learning in their communities. The students and tutors share an understanding that, if there are things that they need to know in order to teach others, they will learn them through the teaching of others. The students and adults form a powerful social movement, with a common identity around access to learning.
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 18, 2011
5 min read
Education Opinion What Would Happen if We Let Them Go?
I wonder, finally, what would happen if we simply opened the doors and let the students go; if we let them walk out of the dim light of the overhead projector into the sunlight; if we let them decide how, or whether, to engage this monolith? Would it be so terrible? Could it be worse than what they are currently experiencing?
International Perspectives on Education Reform Group, May 17, 2011
4 min read