Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Best Idea For Fixing Public Schools

Always been a big Tom Peters fan.  While he's drifted off the 'A' list of management authors, there's one line of his which has stuck with me all these years:
"It is easier to replace than reform"
One of my current favorite writers on K-12 education is Jay Greene, who today posted an provocative piece; “Fix Schools by Not Fixing Schools.”   While the title may be at first perplexing, the thrust of his argument meshes with Peters' theorem of it being easier to replace than reform.
For Greene, we must first understand the forces defending the Status Quo:

The main reason we should stop focusing on fixing traditional public schools is that, for the most part, they don’t want to be fixed.  The people who make their living off of those schools have reasons for wanting schools to be as they are and have enormous political resources to fend off efforts to fundamentally change things.  Trying to impose reforms...is largely a futile exercise.

Greene's solution is to embrace diversity by the process of creating alternatives:

We can fix schools...by going around them.  We can expand access to other educational options, including charter schools, voucher schools, tax-credit schools. ESAs, digital schooling, home-schooling, and hybrid schools.  Reformers should concentrate their energy on all of these non-traditional-school efforts and stop trying so hard to fix traditional public schools.

Like water, we should be seeking the path of least resistance.  After decades of encountering entrenched interests willing to go to war to defend an ossified system, let us take our energies to work around them, to offer true alternatives, and to empower parents to decide which ones work best for their children


Donna Sage said...

Creating better and more options... I like that! Truly American.

Anonymous said...

I've spent my career in public education and sum it this way: We talk about change, we plan for change, we put up all sorts of inspirational posters about change, we hold confabs in elegant surrounding with upscale food where we hear great speeches about change, but in the end We do not want to change

Michael Brand said...

As you might know, Anon, I spent a good decade interacting with the education system in support of their effort to drive 'System Reform'. Ten years and a couple million dollars later, nothing had changed.