Thursday, January 25, 2018

More Reformer Heresy

A prominent reform voice now says that reform is off track.

There have always been members of the reformster movement who have been willing to call out their colleagues. Jay Greene (no relation) has questioned testing orthodoxy, and Rick Hess has often shown a willingness to put intellectual honesty ahead of hewing the party line. We even get the occasional display of full-on apostasy, like the Alt-School rebel from a few weeks ago, or Diane Ravitch herself, who famously defected from the NCLB camp.

Kate Walsh (NCTQ) recently leveled a hard critique at reformsters which echoed a criticism from two years ago by Robert Pondiscio. In response, Pondiscio has written a piece for the Fordham blog that is probably going to earn him some cranky e-mails from his reformy colleagues. You may not be a regular Pondiscio reader, but you should read this.

"Education reform is off track. Here's how to fix it," is not a full-on dismissal of the faith, but it includes some hard words indeed.

After recapping Walsh's complaints, Pondiscio points out that the reality is even worse:

If shares in the education reform movement could be purchased in the stock market, neutral analysts would grade them “underperform” and probably “sell.” We’ve seen gains in student outcomes particularly among disadvantaged subgroups. But those gains have been mostly in math and almost entirely in the younger grades. The “historic” rate of high school graduation is frothy at best, fraudulent at worst. It is not possible to look at the big indicators of K–12 performance over the last few decades—NAEP, PISA, SAT, and ACT scores—and claim that ed reform at large has been a success. The payoff is simply not there.

I'm going to disagree about what the Big Indicators of K-12 performance are, but reformers staked their success on moving those needles and Pondiscio is correct-- those needles have not been moved.

He gives reform credit for the moral goal of making it Not Okay to hold students-- particularly non-white or non-wealthy ones-- to lower standards. But he says the glory days, the high water mark, of reform came twenty years ago, and the few gains achieved are all a decade in the past. "Ed reform peaked early and failed to live up to the hype." I could quibble about the peak, but the failure to live up to the hype is dead on. And he's not done.

Since then we have mostly overplayed our hand, overstated our expertise, and outspent our moral authority by a considerable margin as we morphed from idealism to policymaking. Education reform’s policy prerogatives have transformed schooling in ways that parents don’t much like—test-based accountability, in particular, focused on just two subjects—and without clear and lasting benefits to justify them.

Indeed, many reformster ideas have turned out to be hugely unpopular, in part precisely because they offer no benefits to students and their families. And I'm going to bold this next quote:

If you want the public’s permission to fundamentally alter the relationship between Americans and their schools, there has to be a clear, compelling, and demonstrable upside in time for people to see it. If the reform policy playbook was going to drive transformational, system-wide gains in American education, we’d have seen it by now.


This is almost all of the harshest of his criticism, and much of it I could have (and occasionally have) said myself. But it's worth noting what Pondiscio, one of the few reformsters to have actually worked in a classroom, sees as the fix for reform.

A conceptual failure lies at the heart of ed reform’s underperformance: the mistaken assumption that education policy, not classroom practice, is the most important lever to pull to drive enduring improvement. But educational failure is not a tale of unaccountable and union-protected layabouts refusing to do right by children. More often than not, it’s well-intended people trying hard and failing—and not despite their training, but because of it. In short, we have a product and practice failure more than a policy and process failure.

We're going to have long, contentious conversations about that "not despite their training, but because of it" part, but his basic critique is solid-- reform has focused on policies passed by state and federal level amateurs that have reshaped a bunch of government baloney, but which have deliberately and sometimes aggressively ignored the people who actually teach in classrooms. But there, in the classroom, is where education happens, and all attempts to affect education must be measured by what happens in the classroom. Ed reform has been cavalier in its dismissal of the classroom and of classroom teachers, often setting an explicit goal of making reform teacher-proof, or reducing the job to something that can't be affected by the person performing it. That goal is unattainable, but a great amount of damage has been done (and continues to be done) in trying to attain it (see also: Big Standardized Tests).

Pondiscio notes again the growing schism between the free market and lefty wings of reform, says that charters will never be more than "boutique" schools, and offers this blistering critique of school choice just in time for School Choice Week:

The inconvenient truth is that, even within the ed reform movement, school choice is regarded with suspicion. Choice generally means charter schools, not true educational pluralism, and our support is limited to schools that are willing to subject themselves to the oversight of an increasingly technocratic movement that lacks the record of accomplishment required to impose its prerogatives. Our movement may claim to care about low-income parents and people of color, but we don’t quite trust them to choose unless we strictly limit and monitor their choices. This is ed reform’s own moral failure: Our soft bigotry of low expectations hasn’t gone away. We just apply it to parents now.

In the How To Fix It portion, there is still much for the pro-traditional public school fan to disagree with. Pondiscio calls no excuse schools ( "which once meant there’s no excuse for adults to fail children") an unambiguous victory, and nods to the idea of sending poor black kids to college as the main point of the whole business. He says many nice things about Doug Lenov, and he name checks a variety of education practitioners each of whom is a debate-starter in their own right.

But his bottom line is solid-- if schools are going to be lifted up in this country, it will be because of focus on teaching practices, not government education policy. Of course that policy can either help or hinder what teachers do (well, I'd say mostly it can only help by getting out of the way and keeping other things out of the way as well, or maybe by helping with a fair, full, and equitable dispersal of resources).

Watch for response pieces from other reformsters, ranging from anger to politely veiled anger. If I had to predict the counter arguments, I would put my money on these:

"We just haven't done it right, yet". Common Core watchers will remember "it's the implementation," aka the Core are awesome, it's just that everybody is doing it wrong. This is the argument that the idea is sound, we just need to tweak how we do it.

"We were thwarted by those evil ____________" Insert your favorite villain, such as "teacher unions" or "sycophants of the status quo."

"What do you mean!! We had totally awesome success with _________" Insert your favorite bogus statistic or fake proof of concept result. The powers of denial are great, particularly when you are well paid to exercise them.

There will be more, along with some backchannel namecalling, I'll bet. This does not fit much of the reform orthodoxy. But, to recap, there are points here that I agree with:

If reform ideas were going to change the face of education for the better, we would be there by now, and we're not.

If you want to change the entire premise and function of public education, you'd better be able to offer compelling proof that it will pay off in useful ways. They haven't.

If you want to make education work better, you need to talk with people who work in schools, not people who work in politics.

If we're talking about improving education, we have to talk about practices. That, admittedly, is a huge, huge complicated and contentious conversation, with few easy answers. But it's the conversation we should be having. Conversations about policy matter to the degree to which they affect practice.

Yes, there's not much here that some of us haven't been saying for years, but it matters that it's being said this time in the Fordham blog. And lord knows this would still leave a Grand Canyon's worth of space to argue about what better practice would look like. Read the whole piece. I may have been a bit harsh with Alt-School guy last week, but I must admit, it's always nice to see one more person get it and be honest about it. Yes, I suppose it's possible that this is another reform pivot, but the ideas Pondiscio expresses are consistent with what he's talked about for years. This time he just seems less... patient. Time will tell. In the meantime, grab some popcorn and enjoy those juicy pull quotes.


  1. Maybe Pondiscio gets it and maybe he's being honest, but more than likely, this is just a signal that more changes (bad reform) will be coming down the road. I predicted all along with the appointment of DeVos that the current reformsters would have to run to the next dark corner in order to continue to thrive in the free market. Sounds like the reformsters aren't getting their way with the likes of Betsy D and now they want to side with another group less hated. Maybe that will be local teacher unions....we can only hope!

  2. The standards-based/testing/accountability driven reform movement has largely come up empty for a host of reasons that any experienced teacher could list in just a few minutes, off the top of their head. We sure could have saved them a lot of wasted time, energy, money - and embarrassment. When you're convinced that you're the smartest person in a system that you are largely ignorant of . . . . oh well, no surprises here. Interesting that a small handful of reformers are starting to abandon their sunken ship.

    To Rob and Co. this may help:

    1) The tail (ed policy, pedagogy, standards, curriculum, software) is NEVER going to wag the dog (children, their personalities, their family cultures, the distractions of adolescence, the fatigue of familiarity, classroom dynamics, and the grind of a school year). Never, at least not at the scale that you imagined. Witness the very small scale, temporary success you have achieved - at best. All any of us can do is to tweak the margins while continuing to offer the best opportunities possible. Unfortunately, it is the expansion of "opportunity" where your movement dropped the key and picked up a padlock. Instead of making a school a place where the opportunity gap was closed, you did just the opposite. While obsessed with a "test score" gap you managed to close up the gap that really would have made a difference. I'm not sure you realize the enormity of the damage created by this unfortunate direction that you have inflicted on a generation of needy children. Kids that needed school to be a place of more - not less.

    The real nut of the problem is that the actual working model for school success that exists in thousands of public schools around the country cannot be legislated through policies or replicated with pedagogy. The only hope for fixing those struggling schools and students mired in generational poverty and dependence is not educational at all - its economic. Reformers have been using the wrong tool (tests) for the wrong job (improved test scores) for two decades. Until economic hope is restored, in the form of meaningful work at a living wage, your going to find all of the ed policies, programs, and products produced by so-called educational thought leaders will continue to disappoint.

  3. Ah, you could have used this one he cites from Kate Walsh: If we expand the scope of reform efforts “to include the social, economic, racial, and political contexts of students’ lives, we'll surely be more successful,” she writes, taking care not to be dismissive of those goals, but noting how “their collective impact leaves me limp and rudderless, rather than inspired. This job was hard enough.”

    Yet millions of teachers every day go in to their classrooms, not limp and rudderless, but trying their very best to teach children. So Ms. Walsh, don't whine about how hard you think YOUR job is, get out of our way and let us do OURS.

  4. Reading this post and the previous “Does Social and Emotional Learning Belong in School” is a fascinating way to think about reform-inspired changes to the early years.

    We kindergarten teachers have seen our world change from a fundamental focus on social and emotional learning, to a nose-to-the-grindstone focus on literacy and math skills. What is gained, if one could call it that, is exactly what Mr. Pondiscio said; Kids have some skills at an earlier age than otherwise; thus an increase in test scores in elementary schools.

    Reformers, though, seem to have forgotten to wrestle with two questions.

    One is whether being able to “sound out” simple words, or do subtraction problems at an earlier age really will translate into enabling high school students to more profoundly understand Shakespeare or conquer calculus. All indications seem to say no, but this idea was the foundation and structure of Common Core.

    The second is whether, by taking the focus off social and emotional learning at an early age, we are setting up a situation where there is a need to formalize SEL in later years. We live in a topsy-turvy world, but it does seem particularly inverted to focus on academics in kindergarten and SEL in high school.

    I am heartened by the fact that reform figures are taking a second look at what they have sown. In these discussions it feels like there is never enough focus on elementary schools. I do wish that the reformers would spend a bit more time untangling and understanding the damage they have done to the early years.

    1. I've been saying this as I've seen more and more academic expectations forced into younger and younger grades. We're co-opting the window where "soft skills"/SEL/whatever name you want to give it happens organically and replacing it w/early academics, and then we find that the kids have no creativity, no drive, no "grit" (hate that word anyway), no impulse control, no persistence, no body awareness, skyrocketing ADD diagnoses, so we bring guidance counselors in to do lessons on that stuff and expect it to magically "take."

      We need to go back to the drawing board, enlist Early Childhood professionals, and start from scratch. We can graduate literate young adults AND let small children be small children. Finland does it, because Finland starts with THE CHILDREN and THEIR needs.

  5. It's revealing that so-called reformers would use a stock market metaphor to describe the current status of their "movement."

    I've also used one for years, as well: so-called reform is akin to a hostile takeover of public education, which involves eliminating any institutional memory, stripping assets and then leaving the public with the remaining husk.

  6. Pondiscio's mea culpa is too little, too late for me. We all TOLD "Reformers" that teachers had answers, that we knew things politicians didn't, that there were factors they weren't taking into account (eg child development, poverty), and were run roughshod over, along with a generation of schoolkids.

    Does Pondiscio want to...what? Reform "Reform?" Start from scratch and try scaling up a new collection of silver bullets? Make a brand new partnership with TEACHRS now and "fix" that Common Core that is far from dead? Stand up to DeVos? I don't suppose, after the years of "holding teachers accountable," HE, along with the rest of Fordham and the entire rest of the "Reform" crowd, might be open to being held truly accountable themselves?

  7. Thanks for the respectful summary, Peter. It's appreciated. I'm not inclined to get into a back-and-forth on this, but I do want to make one overarching point, which is that I've pretty much always been a "practice" guy more than a policy guy. I taught elementary school for five years in the South Bronx and on and off since then. It made me a curriculum-and-instruction guy (because that's where my kids were being poorly served) and reform-friendly (because it seemed the quickest way to fix things in the South Bronx.

    What strikes me in the response to this piece, here and elsewhere is how it reflects the "debate" both for and against "reform" and within reform. My entire point (and again, this is not really new) is that I think we should spend more time focusing on how to improve teaching and learning, and less time fighting about under whose roof teaching and learning occurs. If you want to argue about whose roof is stronger, more valuable, whether certain roofs should be banned, whether his roof makes your roof weaker, or if we'd all be better off if everyone built his own roof, that's fine. These are interesting arguments. But they elide meaningful discussion about what's going on under all of those roofs. And I signed up to be in education, not construction.

    1. "I think we should spend more time focusing on how to improve teaching and learning . . . "

      Let’s not forget that models of successful teaching and learning abound in America’s public schools. There is no need to re-invent good teaching and authentic learning. Here is the one politically incorrect fact that reformers like Pondiscio have failed to address: Literally millions of students fail to learn in America’s schools despite being in classrooms with adequate to excellent teachers using proven pedagogies while offering a host of support services.

      If reformers can solve this, more power to them.

    2. As long as you work and write for Fordham, Robert, you're in the Construction business. You guys talk policy and theory but not nuts & bolts, by & large. Fordham isn't really in the business of Education, any more than your boss Mike Petrilli is the "education expert" he plays on TV and in newspapers.

      I'd love to work with people who are REALLY interested more in education than in construction and whose job bears that out. Let's talk about how kids learn. Let's talk about serious Early Childhood ed, where ALL the foundations for future learning of all kinds are laid. Let's talk TRUE equity of opportunity for ALL students rather than expanding Choice or Test-Centered Data-Driven instruction, because those things are "Construction," not "Education."

      The term "reform," as co-opted by the Reform Movement, has taken on baggage that the term as defined in Merriam-Webster never had. Quick search for the definition brings up this: "make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it." Test-Score-Based teaching hasn't improved education. Higher standards for Small Children haven't done it, and neither have Early Literacy/Numeracy in preschool at the expense of the social & emotional development that has to be co-opted to meet inappropriate goals. I'm not against improvement, but I *am* against non-educator-created and imposed Silver Bullets that are shot at schools that fail to hit the right targets and in fact often cause collateral damage.

      A shame we never got to get together and chat, but I guess the Construction Business was keeping you busy. *wink*

  8. Here's the down and dirty little secret of school life, reformers take note:

    Never forget, the majority of students are just kids who are happy to take the academic path of least resistance while having fun with their friends. Expecting serious, motivated adult learning behaviors from large groups of 5 to 15 year old children over the course of a 1,500+ period school year is pretty unreasonable. One thing reformers just don't get is that teachable moments are few and far between in the grind of the school year. The K to 12 school experience is less about pure, academic "learning" than one might imagine - and in a good way - and for good reasons.

    1. I actually agree with this. It's impossible to miss if you spend any time in front of students. But follow this "dirty little secret" where it leads: if we know not every child is intrinsically motivated, why not let those who are, why not let those who are academically ambitious self-select into a school filled with kids just like them? Why should this opportunity be reserved only for affluent families who can buy their way into private schools and zip codes with honors programs, APs, etc?

      If you're rich and white, you get excellence. If you're poor, black or brown you get equity. And a lecture. Is it so? Or is it not so?

    2. Letting the academically motivated student with supportive parents self-select into a (charter) school filled with equally motivated students is the exact choice I would make if I was a parent of color trapped in urban poverty with a chaotic public school as my other option. Public policy should not however, support a model that strands 90% of the "others" in a school depleted of resources because of the charter option. Those resources include money and motivated students. "Choice" is a dilemma for policy for public schools - but a no brainer for concerned parents.

    3. Those two things are mutually exclusive. Pick one. If you acknowledge that is "the exact choice I would make as a parent of color trapped in urban poverty with a chaotic public school as my other option" could you actually *deny* parents of color that choice as public policy?

    4. As a matter of public policy I would have to deny parents of color a charter school option that is funded with public money and established for only a select few - at the detriment the those excluded. Just like I would deny a select few, the use of a special road system that is beautifully paved, well lit and free of traffic, potholes, and construction delays just because they were unhappy with their cruddy public roads. Just like we don't offer select families who are quiet, clean, and well behaved,special, high end housing that purposefully excludes the majority because they are unhappy with their run-down projects. Just like we do not offer a select group of citizens a special, user friendly court system that excludes the majority just because they don't like the traditional public system with all its bureaucratic red tape, delays, and frustrations.

      Like any taxpayer funded infrastructure system, service, or institution, a public school system cannot offer selective options that help the few but harm the many. As a parent of color trapped in urban poverty with a chaotic public school I would do everything in my power, within the public school system, to make sure my ambitious and highly motivated child took full advantage of the opportunities that exist.

  9. I appreciate your candor. And appalled by the ramifications of it.

    1. Why aren't you advocating for the obvious? My examples were meant to prove a point that you seem to have missed. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should have have to tolerate third-world, sub-standard health care, sub-standard infrastructure, sub-standard services, or sub-standard schools - just because they are poor and without a voice. Why are you so quick to abandon the majority of kids in struggling schools to help the few children lucky enough to have adults who advocate for them? Did you really think that CC standards and testing would rescue them from poverty? There are a lot of powerful, charter cheerleaders that willingly leave the majority of kids worse off because of their misguided efforts. Now that's appalling.

    2. Robert, assuming that you're replying to NY Teacher's post that "expecting serious, motivated adult learning behaviors from large groups of 5 to 15 year old children over the course of a 1,500+ period school year is pretty unreasonable," what exactly is "appalling" about acknowledging the nature of learning and of children?

      I've done anthropology coursework and it was remarkably informative to me to see what "learning" looks like in cultures other than American/Western, especially in areas where Western civilization has made less impact on society: children are included in adult endeavors from early ages and learn an astonishing array of skills informally through immersion, whereas my kids sit in 7 different same-length classes daily and get precisely-dosed chunks of information, to be reinforced by homework, lather, rinse, repeat for 36 weeks, over 13 years, then go to college, get a job, retire, die - but without the time given or priority granted by policymakers for true deep authentic learning, so very much falls by the wayside.

      In my own experience, when we meet children of whatever age/stage they come to us at, and this ESPECIALLY applies to where they are developmentally, we can succeed at teaching them AMAZING things beyond our wildest expectations. But if we expect kids to spend 13 years happily gobbling up whatever we give them just so they can be College And Career Ready, at the expense of many of their other gifts and talents and strengths and weaknesses and needs, we're setting an entire educational system up for abject failure.

      I still get to DC once a week, on Tuesdays. You know how to find me.

  10. What's appalling is knowing the some number of low-SES kids are capable of much higher levels of achievement and attainment and saying, in effect, Sorry, but we are keeping you "trapped in urban poverty with a chaotic public school" as a matter of public policy, so "take full advantage of the opportunities that exist."

    I understand and respect that this is a stance that is intellectually demanded of those who favor a single system of public education. But I find it morally problematic. It functionally imposes mediocrity (or worse) on those who can and should have more and better. We're not going to agree on this, but the child is not the creature of the state. In America, I simply don't think it's moral--or even legal--to demand that children be forced into chaotic schools for the greater good.

    1. (I know, I need to learn to edit...but not right this minute. Bear with me)

      Given the resources, those schools can become less chaotic, more orderly and productive. We know more now about teaching and learning and the neurodevelopmental and physiological mechanisms behind so much more of childhood and knowledge acquisition, for lack of a better term, than we did even when David Coleman and his Merry Men disregarded any of the knowledge and Magicked up Common Core. Let's put that knowledge to good use.

      Let's acknowledge the LONG-understood facts that class size DOES matter; that the best teaching is done human-to-human, directly; that poverty can mean kids coming to school with needs above and beyond those of their better-off schoolmates, and Fix. Those. Things.

      Make classes small!
      Hire enough ACTUAL humans to do the teaching!
      Make sure schools and classrooms have the necessary resources!
      ESPECIALLY let Small Children be Small Children, and meet them intellectually where they are (which is NOT taking manipulatives in math class and re-organizing them to learn, through what amounts to direct instruction in the end, that 6+8=10+4!

    2. I don't understand this obsession with funding the alternatives at the expense of schools that are already under-resourced to begin with. If the billionaires have all this damn money, have them adopt a school district instead of expanding the web of Public Dollars Going Down Rabbit Holes instead of giving the majority of children what they are legally entitled to: A Free and Appropriate Public Education.

      You will never convince me that no-excuses dead-silent starched-shirt-collars-turned-just-so charter schools are "appropriate" for ANY small child; you frame it in terms of "Parent Choice" without the understanding that the CHILD should come first. (And as Peter pointed out some posts ago, we need look no further than the Turpins for an example of "parent choice" gone horribly awry - it can and does happen, whether in a homeschool situation or in school selection.)

      When I see "chaotic" or "mediocre" public schools - and in my subject area, since I generally spend at most 2 days a week in any given school, that means I get to teach in 2-4 schools at a time, so I've taught in a LOT of schools (public, private, low-SES, middle-class, high-SES, magnet, traditional, elementary, middle, high school) - it comes down to two factors: the administrator there is ineffective (which can and does happen in private and charter schools) or there simply aren't enough resources to go around (which is exacerbated when charters are in the picture).

      Being "trapped in urban (or rural) poverty with a chaotic public school" is bad, sure, but a) that doesn't mean that charters are less chaotic (or maybe *too* structured!) or that b) these schools couldn't do a lot better with equitable resources.

      What I'd like to see from the Reform Crowd is fighting to get equitable resources for ALL students in "chaotic" and "underperforming" schools, whether it's enough classrooms, or art & music teachers, or extra counselors, or wraparound services for the surrounding community (think medical clinic once a week, or after-school activities staffed not just by volunteers but by people who could afford to do it for a living and get REALLY REALLY GOOD at it!), or fixing window & water pipes - instead of pulling money FROM schools that already have too little, why not fight to make those schools good?

      That fact that you do NOT fight for that but instead for a parallel system of schools funded from the same financial pot puts you squarely in the "construction" camp, Robert - not "education" at all.

      Know what *I* find appalling? Poor urban and rural schools being continuously and chronically neglected and now starved, and the children and teachers in them suffering. I want to know how you and Mike Petrilli and Rick Hess and the whole lot of you would help THOSE schools...not take them over, but set them up to work the way they should.

      Do you have plans for THAT?

      Call me when you do. I've got ideas galore.

  11. I taught for many years in the lowest performing elementary school in the South Bronx. If I thought the problem "continuous and chronic neglect" I'd say so. Or class sizes (some years I had as few as 16). Or the panoply of service you want. If you want to fit me for a black hat be my guest. Size 7 and 3/8, please.

    See you in DC soon, I hope.

    1. So what do you see as "the" problem (or problems) then? How long ago was this, and what grade(s) did you teach? (I'm trying to get your perspective; there's a difference IMO between a K-2 teacher and a 5th-grade teacher.)

      And how would YOU go about fixing it, in that school where you taught, or in others you've heard or read about? What real meaningful change(s) would you have wanted to enact? What real meaningful change(s) do you think would make the difference now in that/those school(s). Assuming no White Knight Charter coming to save those kids...what then?

      This is a serious question, not a throwaway; I'd honestly like to know what you, especially as one of the few with actual classroom experience in the Fordham "Construction" ;-) Institute, would do if you had the chance.

      I'm sure someplace in DC has a big enough table - or whiteboard - to hash this out. :-)

  12. I don't pretend to have a fix. And I'm skeptical of those who do.

    1. See, I'd rather fix what we have to benefit more people than dismantle what we have and build a patchwork of...well, we're seeing of what in places sith charters. We're also seeing charters close midyear and running off with public funds while dumping their students back into the neighborhood schools; we see hedge fund operators working to benefit investors over kids; we're seeing real estate schemes draining public coffers. What we're NOT seeing is those effort consistently producing better education. We're re-inventing wheel after wheel after wheel when we could be repairing the flat tire.

      And actually, I was asking less for a "fix" from you than a thought-out "Damn, I really hated that [X] was a thing, so here's my wish list of Things To Fix. You're a teacher and you don't have a wish list, but you're happy to support charters as a fix, along with all the other nonteachers who know even less than you, even though charters haven't been shown to be that fix either, AND y'all are making way bigger paychecks than any teachers I know while you're fighting for these alternatives to TPS.

      And that's what confounds me: that the people in the trenches who have actionable ideas NOW, based on experience and even *gasp* science, are not the ones with the ears of policymakers. YOU are, even though you "don't pretend to have a fix."

      OK, I'm gonna say it: if you admit that you have no ideas to fix schools, what qualifies you to fix education at a higher (policy) level? You admit that we need to look more at Practice than at Policy, so let's start there...but CAN you?

      I can. Lots of us can, even those of us who took a hiatus from mandated Bad Practice. We're more than ready to talk Practice, and have been for a long long time. Is the Reform Wing ready to listen yet?