If education reformers are honest with one another, we must admit that our efforts have a hit a wall, according to a new book published today by the Center for Education Reform. The hard reality is, more was accomplished in the first nine years of the movement than in the past 16.
Charting a New Course: The Case for Freedom, Flexibility, and Opportunity Through Charter Schools presents a collection of essays by eight education experts. The book compares the approaches of the two main groups in the charter-school world: those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians, and those who want to empower parents.
The first school of reformers — those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians — make decisions on the basis of standardized test scores. As a result, which schools can open and which must close are the exclusive province of spreadsheets.
On the other hand, the second school of reformers trust parents more than they trust bureaucrats. They want to see a more open and dynamic system, where educational entrepreneurs are free to introduce schools and strategies and parents are free to decide which facilities are best for their children.
Once upon a time, education reform reflected revolutionary change. Today, ed reform has become synonymous with the status quo. There’s little urgency, too many excuses, and too few entrepreneurs.
As our new book demonstrates, there’s only one way to guarantee kids a better education. And that’s to embrace innovation and opportunity as the central tenets of our system. Anything less, and our own children will be writing the same eulogies and calls for action 20 years from now.
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