Who should drive reform?

Americans rank small class size and technology as more effective than vouchers on the pro-choice Friedman Foundation’s new survey.  That must have produced “surprise (and, no doubt, embarrassment)” at the foundation, writes Diane Ravitch on her blog.

The foundation was “quite encouraged,” writes Robert Enlow, the foundation president.
Survey respondents ranked vouchers in the middle among seven offered education reforms. Not bad for a measure that currently affects just 0.9 percent of our country’s total student population.
As for the other reforms that ranked above vouchers, who doesn’t want smaller classrooms for students? And, in the 21st century, we certainly could use more technology in our schools along with accountability.

The critical question is: Who should drive those changes? writes Enlow. Should it be “lawmakers and bureaucrats, or parents free to choose, using vouchers, and educators free to teach, not being dictated by standardized tests?”

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  1. How detailed was the survey in its definition of ‘technology?’ For instance, I do value technology in the classroom. I want my daughter to learn to program, we just bought her a raspberry pi, her microscope hooks up to the computer, we use Khan for extra math practice….

    BUT….I think these laptop/tablet for all programs are a waste, and really, a lot of these gadgets are just the old overhead projectors with more bells and whistles.

    So… if my child went to a normal school, I might want more technology (programming, lego robot league, Khan for practice), without wanting more gimmicks….

  2. Notably missing from the list of options were homogeneous classes and classes geared to the most able and motivated kids in the school. By the latter, I mean more and deeper material and a faster pace, as opposed to the academically-useless artsy projects (often in groups) that often pass for “gifted” programs – where such things even exist now. I also agree with DM about techy gimmicks – technology is a tool, not a magic remedy.

  3. Who should drive reform? Whoever has the political muscle. That’s how the system works.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Without standardized tests, there is no way of knowing if the school, or the teacher, is doing even a halfway good job.
    People talk about accountability. Without standardized tests, parents will have to depend on their own view of progress during the school year. Some will be buffaloed by snark that, having been in a classroom some people think they know education, and some will not.
    Then what?