Schoolfolk Suffer From Reform Fatigue

30 07 2009

EDUCATION WEEK Commentary
By Mary Kennedy
July 28, 2009

There used to be a saying that if you were not part of the solution, you were part of the problem. The implication was that we all, collectively, were creating the problem, and that the solution required all of us to change together.

But in education, solutions are a big part of our problem. School people are swamped by a deluge of solutions. They suffer from reform fatigue.

. . .There have always been zealous education reformers, of course. But the number and variety of helpful ideas is now so great that the solutions themselves have become a problem.
It is easy to brainstorm about alternatives in education, but hard to anticipate their unintended consequences.

. . .[W]e live in a time when reforms and fads have become so commonplace that every new board member or superintendent feels a need to make a personal mark on his or her district by introducing something new. As these policymakers come and go, teachers are buffeted by the raft of competing new ideas they leave behind. So routine turnovers in leadership reignite this continuing series of distractions, further reducing teachers’ chances of finding time for reflection and maintaining a stable environment for intellectual work. No wonder that when the new superintendent comes to town, and the new professional-development program is brought in, teachers go into their classrooms and quietly shut their doors.

Every American teacher feels some level of reform fatigue. If you think you are part of the solution, check again. You may be part of the problem.

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