Lesson Learning Essay

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They’ll argue that dozens of new teacher-evaluation systems have delivered, never mind the growing piles of paperwork, dubious scoring systems, or lack of evidence that they’ve led to any changes in how many teachers are deemed effective or in need of improvement. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grants didn’t move test scores or that of time with reformers over the past 25 years, I can confidently report that most will privately concede that much didn’t work out as hoped or as they’d anticipated.

They’ll insist that the conception and rollout of the Common Core State Standards went swimmingly, never mind the politicized mess, half-baked implementation, or fractured testing regime. If you think I’m wrong, that things are working out splendidly and just as advertised, then feel free to skip this article and my recent book, .

Our schools and systems were never designed for what we’re asking them to do today—to rigorously educate every child in a diverse nation.

Making that possible will indeed require big changes to policies governing staffing, spending, and much else. But policy is better at facilitating that kind of rethinking than at forcing it.

And, while I’m not the quickest study, like anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in education, I’ve got a gut reaction to the term “school reformer.” For some, it summons images of heroic charter school leaders.

For others, it brings to mind “deformers” bent on destroying public education. It’s something a bit different: I find myself wondering why the handiwork of passionate, well-meaning people so often disappoints.

So, she wants to require schools to assign a mentor to each new teacher.

But then she worries that the “problem schools” will treat the mentoring as busywork.

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I say all this as someone who, for many long years, has been labeled a school reformer.

Now, a few reformers will deny that reform has disappointed.


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