I recently read Michele McNeil’s piece in Education Week, “Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.”, and was heartened by what I read. The piece begins with this overview…
In statehouses and cities across the country, battles are raging over the direction of education policy—from the standards that will shape what students learn to how test results will be used to judge a teacher’s performance.
Students and teachers, in passive resistance, are refusing to take and give standardized tests. Protesters have marched to the White House over what they see as the privatization of the nation’s schools. Professional and citizen lobbyists are packing hearings in state capitols to argue that the federal government is trying to dictate curricula through the use of common standards.
New advocacy groups, meanwhile, are taking their fight city to city by pouring record sums of money into school board races.
Not since the battles over school desegregation has the debate about public education been so intense and polarized, observers say, for rarely before has an institution that historically is slow to change been forced to deal with so much change at once.
I take heart in reading this because it appears that there may finally be emerging a profound challenge to the governance model of public education, an institution designed nearly 200 years ago to be governed in a highly centralized structure by a small powerful elite at the top of its hierarchy of control. Parents, teachers and (heaven forbid) students have never really been part of the governance structure of our public school system. Could there be some danger now that this situation could finally begin to change?