Judith Shulevitz has written
a brilliant
essay in “The Néw Republic” about the
corporate and political leaders’ infatuation with “disruption.” It
is “the most pernicious cliche of our time.” She identifies its
author, Clayton Christenson, and shows how it explains some
technological change yet is now used in policy circles to undermine
and privatize public functions. Shulevitz observes: “Christensen
and his acolytes make the free-market-fundamentalist assumption
that all public or nonprofit institutions are sclerotic and unable
to cope with change. This leads to an urge to disrupt,
preemptively, from above, rather than deal with disruption when it
starts bubbling up below….they don’t like participatory democracy
much. “The sobering conclusion,” write Christensen and co-authors
in their book about K–12 education, “is that democracy … is an
effective tool of government only in” less contentious communities
than those that surround schools. “Political and school leaders who
seek fundamental school reform need to become much more comfortable
amassing and wielding power because other tools of governance will
yield begrudging cooperation at best.” This observation leads to an
enlightening discussion of the Broad-trained superintendents and
their love of disruption. When they move into districts to impose
transformation and disruption, they sow dissension and turmoil.
None of this is good for children.