A discombobulated radical
John Merrow’s new book, Addicted to Reform, offers a rosy and unachievable vision for public school change, writes Checker Finn. Merrow is “a sort of discombobulated radical who seeks many worthy changes in the American K–12 enterprise but whose ‘plan,’ for all its dozen steps, isn’t likely to result in the overhaul he wants.”
He rejects federal and state reforms in favor of local pilots, but also “condemns the inequalities that arise from local control (and funding),” writes Finn.
“Curriculum isn’t what it ought to be partly because, as Merrow argues, our fixation on reading and math achievement has squeezed it, but also because it’s been decentralized to individual districts and schools,” he adds.
Merrow hopes “an outraged populace will combine with empowered educators to burn down the system as we know it and replace it” with something that resembles “a well-run system of top-notch charter schools” writes Finn.
“Trying to follow his multi-step manual . . . recalls many fumbled efforts to assemble furniture at home, only to discover that the accompanying instructions were obviously written in a foreign language, then badly translated, and accompanied by inscrutable diagrams, and then to discover, way too late in the process, that some key parts were missing from the box.”