NEW! Latest Research on “Blueprint for Reform”

by theschoolprincipal on October 7, 2010


Whether you are an advocate or a critic of the school reform movement that began under President Bush with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) — and which has continued under President Obama with Blueprint for Reform — you need to read The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence (September 2010). Recently released by the National Education Policy Center, the report examines the research behind Blueprint for Reform and finds it flawed. If you are not familiar with the National Education Policy Center, it is a new university research organization which will examine and critique the actual research behind think tanks’  and advocacy groups’ conclusions and recommendations  regarding education in America.

You may read  a summary of the report here and then order the report itself directly from the publisher. You may also read edweek.org’s review of the report.

Can we add another principle to our list of the Principal’s Principles in the sidebar to the right? I think we can.

Principle #5: School reform initiated at the national or state level must be based on sound and unbiased research.

With the  National Education Policy Center’s ability to examine existing research, there is no longer an excuse to permit our long history, according to Russ Whitehurst, of allowing “policy formation and implementation [to be] out in front of the evidence base,” which is how we’ve “solved” educational problems in the past. Mr. Whitehurst, the director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, was interviewed by Dakarai I. Aarons in edweek.org, where Mr. Whitehurst goes on to say: “You can’t sit on your hands and do nothing if you think something needs to be done and you have been elected to do something.”

How do I know that Mr. Whitehurst is wrong and that we can’t continue to make education policy in this fashion? Look at NCLB. It’s been a disaster for public education. So then how can we possibly proceed with President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform?

(Read the comments below Dakarai I.Aaron’s article. I find Education Architects’ comment to be insightful — and I so much WANT to agree with him. Intuitively, I feel that  he’s right. But logically I know that he’s wrong. He’s right because we need to do something now. It is late in the 3rd quarter and those of us who care about kids feel an urgency to act. Sometimes we all want to simply cut through the Gordian knot and move on. We don’t want to let ambiguity paralyze us. BUT to make such sweeping and monumental reforms on the national level without research to back it up is madness. Rather than moving ahead, we  now find ourselves trying to reform the reform. Local teachers, local  schools and LEAS can certainly experiment and try out new ideas without being research bound. Let’s not stifle individual initiative at the local level. But at the national level with no sound research behind us? Sorry, Education Architects. Your heart is in the right place. But, no, we can’t.)

And, with that said, I believe  our new Principal’s Principle is also a new “Lesson Learned“: Lesson 2: School reform initiated at the national or state level must be based on sound and unbiased research.

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