"We put reforms through our existing system and when they don't work as we hoped, we ask what's wrong with the reform--when we should be asking what's wrong with the system." – Jal Mehta, Robert B. Schwartz, and Frederick M. Hess in The Futures of School Reform
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 17, 2012
In their new book The Futures of School Reform (Harvard Education Press 2012), education reform experts Jal Mehta, Robert B. Schwartz, and Frederick (Rick) Hess highlight the shortcomings of current education reform debates, noting that "almost all of the ideas currently on the mainstream table leave the basic structure of American schooling fundamentally unchanged." The Futures of School Reform challenges major pillars in the education system (teachers, schools, governance, subjects, goals) to broaden the largely static debate over school reform.
Among the reforms Mehta, Schwartz, and Hess suggest:
- "Unbundling" the school system: reorganize schools to, for instance, look like hospitals, with a corps of highly skilled teachers directly instructing students. Those highly skilled instructors would be aided by a variety of support staff, who would fulfill the other classroom functions.
- Developing a "mixed model" of schooling: eliminate school assignment based on zip code and allow student choice and markets to determine which school models--traditional, online, or hybrid--flourish and which die out.
- Dissolving the system: Move beyond traditional classroom experiences with textbooks and chalkboards and place an emphasis on learning -- utilizing the internet and outside-the-classroom experiences.
"Our country is faced with an absolutely frightening crisis and challenge: we must radically improve our education system or our children will simply be unable to compete in the global economy. The diverse voices in this book demonstrate that there is no single solution, but the writers are united in their urgency. This eye-opening book should be required reading for educators and policy makers across America." -- Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone
"American education is at a crossroads. In "The Futures of School Reform," Mehta, Schwartz, and Hess present six essays on education reform strategies that will spark a provocative discussion on how to transform our education system." -- Jeb Bush, governor of Florida from 1999-2007, and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education
Jal Mehta is an assistant professor as the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where Robert B. Schwartz is the Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration. Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. All of the scholars can also be reached through Lauren Aronson at [email protected] or 202.862.5904.
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