The Education Reform Movement Has Failed America. We Need Common Sense Solutions That Work.
by Diane Ravitch
The education reform movement that started with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law is dead. It died because every strategy it imposed on the nation’s schools has failed. From Bush’s No Child Left Behind to Obama’s Race to the Top to Bill Gates’ Common Core State Standards to Trump’s push for school choice, the reformers have come up empty-handed.
The “reformers” relied on the business idea that disruption is a positive good. I call them “disruptors,” not reformers. Reformers have historically called for more funding, better trained teachers, desegregation, smaller class sizes. The disruptors, however, banked on a strategy of testing, competition, and punishment, which turned out to be ineffective and harmful.
Congress passed Bush’s No Child Left Behind law in 2001 based on his claim that there had been a “Texas miracle.” Test every child every year in grades 3-8, he said, reward the schools where scores went up, punish those where scores did not, and great things happen: scores rise, graduation rates increase, and the gaps between racial groups get smaller. We now know that it was empty talk: There was no Texas miracle. But every public school in the nation continues to be saddled with an expensive regime of annual standardized testing that is not found in any high-performing nation.