Bruce Adams, a veteran teacher and artist in Buffalo, explains how to fix the schools in nine not-so-easy steps.
His recipe does not involve firing teachers or closing schools. It does not rely on standardized testing. It takes time.
Wall Street hedge fund managers, Eli Broad, and the Gates Foundation won’t like his plan, because he warns against expecting quick results. In fact, he says, “don’t expect overnight success.” That no doubt disqualifies him in the eyes of our impatient reformers, who can’t wait.
We don’t give schools enough time to implement one educational philosophy before replacing it with a trendy new one. Radical improvement doesn’t occur overnight. If we overhaul the system tomorrow and remain consistent, we could expect comprehensive results by the time this year’s newborns reach their senior year. Seventeen years may sound like a long time, but if we had spent ten years transforming our system after “A Nation at Risk” identified the problem in 1983, last year’s graduating seniors would have provided the first cradle to grad results. Think long term, not quick fix.
Of course, it does matter if you implement sound ideas to begin with. If you impose bad ideas that demoralize teachers and turn children into test-taking robots, then seventeen years will be a hard and ugly eternity.