October 2008 Your Turn

When it comes to school reform, most of you say it’s “two steps forward, one step back,” which, when you think of it, is a whole lot better than the reverse.

Sixty-five percent of you are encouraged by the results of school reform. This includes 61 percent who agreed that “there have been more successes than failures,” and another 4 percent who went even further, saying the movement has been “largely successful.” On the other hand, 30 percent said the effort has been “generally unsuccessful,” and 4 percent said it’s been “almost a complete failure so far.”

Let’s start with a “half-full” comment by Washington state board member Rick Maloney:

“I learned a long time ago that decision-making success in a responsible position is often a matter of having just a few more successful decisions than unsuccessful ones,” he said. “The only sure failure is not to decide. So it is with school reform. We have built on successes and revised/redirected/reinvented our plans when they failed. School reform over the past two decades has followed an indirect path, but additional public accountability has been good for this huge institution of public education in our country, and for our district in particular.”

On the “half-empty” -- or perhaps, “one-third” empty -- side, we have Beth Gerot, a board member from Oregon:

“While there have been pockets of success in raising the bar and closing the achievement gap, there have been no districts or states that have taken it to scale,” she said.

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