Education reform does not suffer from lack of energy or
activity. Everywhere you look—Congress, state legislatures, local school
boards, wherever—scores of eager-beavers are filing bills, proposing solutions,
calling for change, and otherwise trying to “push the ball forward.” Yet for
all the effort, for all the pain, we see little gain. What gives?
all the effort, for all the pain, education reformers see little gain. What gives?
The conventional answer, in most reform circles, comes down
to: “the opposition of special
interests.” Teachers unions, school administrators, colleges of education,
textbook publishers, and other defenders (and beneficiaries) of the status quo
fight change at every step and guard their selfish prerogatives jealously.
That may all be true, but our challenges are much more
fundamental. It’s not that the wrong people are in charge. It’s that there are
so many cooks in the education kitchen that nobody
is really in charge. And that is a consequence of an antiquated governance
structure that practically forces all those cooks to enter and remain in the
We bow to the mantra of “local control” yet, in fact, nearly