A reader in the U.K. sent this editorial about business leaders’ complaints about poorly educated workers. He thought it was interesting to note that the same laments are heard on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. I have noticed that such laments are often concurrent with a big push to outsource jobs to countries that pay a small fraction of what local workers expect to be paid.
Yet, as I read the editorial, I remembered reading a few years ago that Sir Michael Barber, late of McKinsey, now at Pearson, was supposed to have successfully reformed the British education system. Barber is a big believer in targets and testing, accountability and school closing. His ideas have been influential in supporting the NCLB regime, giving it a patina of legitimacy, based in part on his reputation for having reformed British education.
Barber calls his philosophy of education “deliverology.”
Apparently, “deliverology” saved British education, and now it needs to be saved again.
Schools have this nasty habit of getting unreformed not long after they were reformed. Arne Duncan reformed Chicago, but now it has to be reformed again. Paul Vallas reformed Philadelphia (and Chicago, too) but now it has to be reformed again.
Reforms have this odd life cycle: first comes the press release, then the sustained publicity campaign, and then the reforms quietly dissolve. And the cycle begins again. The Houston Independent School District is on the Broad Foundation’s list of possible winners of its annual prize. Houston was the first district to win the prize some years ago. Then it had to be reformed all over again. New York City has been reformed for the past decade, and chances are that the next mayor will want to reform the reforms.
The only question that remains is not whether the reforms will be reformed, but whether they will be replaced by something different (which would involve admitting that mistakes were made), or whether reformers will do more of the same, with greater intensity.
And so it goes.