week Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr. was in Ohio and stopped in Dayton (Fordham’s
hometown and his) to give a speech to
the Dayton Rotary Club. The speech, Reforming
America’s Schools: Where Things Stand in 2011, highlighted the major education
reform efforts and struggles associated with them since the mid-1980s. Finn
stated that the major goals of education reform have centered on three areas:
boosting academic achievement, narrowing learning gaps between the “haves” and “have
nots,” and increasing choice options to allow for poor
and disadvantaged youth to escape failing schools. Finn pointed out that:
priorities have given rise to a tsunami of standards-based reform, including
statewide academic standards, assessment and accountability systems, as well as
considerable federal aid and pressure in this direction via Goals 2000, No
Child Left Behind, and much more, including, most recently, the Common Core or
“national” academic standards for reading and math and the Race to the Top
portion of the economic stimulus act.
went on to recognize that while all of these reform efforts should be
applauded, they have not yet gotten us where we need to be.
you’re looking at domestic or international test results or high school
graduation rates, you find our educational outcomes essentially flat—save for a
smallish upward blip in math in the earlier grades—and you find other countries
outpacing us on a number of key indicators.
discussed several roadblocks currently standing in the way of reform efforts.
Specifically, he highlighted eight major areas that help contribute to the lack
of consensus surrounding education reform. Among these include a backlash
against testing, entities such as unions, school boards, and ed schools who
don’t want to be held accountable for results, and a sense of complacency with
Finn’s speech here.