The market-based reforms of the past dozen years have failed. Now they are the status quo, imposed on the nation by NCLB and Race to the Top, will hurt our nation’s children and undermine public education for all children.

The Bush-Obama policies are bad for children, ad for teachers, bad for principals, bad for schools, bad for the quality of education, and threaten the future of public education in the United States.

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The question is: Will the zealous reformers listen? Or will they continue their path of destruction.

The Broader Bolder Approach to Education reviewed the academic progress in the cities that aggressively adopted market reforms–New York City, D.C., and Chicago–and found that these districts UNDERPERFORMED in comparison to other urban districts.

The “reforms” imposed by Michelle Rhee, Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and Arne Duncan actually harmed children who needed help the most. They are not “reform.” They are misguided, inappropriate interventions, like using an axe to butter your bread or shave.

Here are excerpts from the BBA report:

“Pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education “reforms” look more like the new status quo than real reform.

“Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased school “choice” through expanded access to charter schools, and the closure of “failing” and underenrolled schools will boost falling student achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This report examines these assertions by assessing the impacts of these reforms in three large urban school districts: Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago. These districts were studied because all enjoy the benefit of mayoral control, produce reliable district-level test score data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and were led by vocal reformers who im- plemented versions of this agenda.

“KEY FINDINGS

“The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success:

*Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reform” cities than in other urban districts.

*Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination.

*Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers.

*School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.

*Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students.

*Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.

*The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient, and multipronged.

For the full report, please visit

boldapproach.org/rhetoric-trumps-reality