Mike Petrilli’s next steps for the education reform movement essentially boil down to staying the course on choice and accountability, improving curriculum, and reworking the career track in high schools. There’s more nuance, of course, but in a nutshell that’s it.
I say go big. It’s time for a new civil rights movement with educational equity as the centerpiece.
We will never close achievement gaps under the current framework. Low-income kids will always start school further behind than their middle-class counterparts, they will always get shafted on funding, and they will never catch up in the vast majority of schools.
Setting aside politics for the moment, what is really needed to dramatically change outcomes is much more learning time and much more investment in teachers.
Start at the beginning—literally—with programs providing support for low-income kids from birth through preschool. There is no better investment than strong early learning programs. If we really want to make a difference, that’s the place to start.
Second, radically reduce class size in the lower grades. Let’s get K–3 teacher-student ratios down to fifteen-to-one or less in schools serving poor children, and then we will find out if we can teach them all to...