Author William Doyle has been observing the current “reform movement” promoted by people like Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, Bobby Jindal, Rick Snyder, Rick Scott, and Michelle Rhee, and he has developed a theory about its true nature. Doyle thinks that the current movement is Soviet-style, with unrealistic targets and top-down control. What struck me as amazing is that I read an article in the Teachers College Record and blogged about it a year ago, in which the author argued that the current model of “education reform” is Stalinist. At the time, I thought this was perhaps extreme. I am not so sure anymore.
The currently dominant theories of education reform are being mis-labeled as “market-driven education reforms” or “corporate education reforms.”
Most of these theories would not last 5 minutes in a truly free market; or a profitable corporation; successful hedge fund or private equity firm, since the results have been so poor.
These sham reforms – - including turning schools over to political cronies and education amateurs and cyber-charters, the flagrant abuse and misuse of standardized tests, spending tens of billions of dollars on unproven reforms, unproven technologies and unproven testing schemes – - are actually the opposite of the free market or corporate models – - they are Soviet-style sham reforms.
Like Soviet models, they are based on top-down, rigid command and control; ideological orthodoxy and one-party thought; flagrant disregard for evidence; the brutalization of human capital; the disembowlement of unions; the crushing of dissent; and the massive misapplication of resources and data; all of which create massive inefficiencies and inevitably poor results.
They also rely on cults of personality created for false idols; and the creation of false miracles and Potemkin success stories.