Peter Greene steps into a debate about whether schools are “working.”

One answer: let research tell us.

Greene disagrees.

Research, he says, depends on the questions you consider important. In the past, communities decided what they wanted their schools to do.

He writes:

“Because what works and what doesn’t work is not a matter of good research at all. Or rather, the research doesn’t matter.

“Only one thing matters– the definition of “works.”

“Does this raggedy philips head screwdriver work? That depends on whether I want to use it to unscrew screws or punch holes in a soup can. Does telling my wife she’s fat work? That depends on whether I want to make her happy or angry.

“If I get to define what “working” looks like, all the measuring, testing, researching, test tubial navalgazing introexamination that follows is secondary. Part of what gets folks’ backs up about the Reformsters is that they start with, “You do not understand how a school is supposed to work. You are doing school wrong.”

Well, I don’t agree with Peter that research doesn’t matter. I think that the corporate reformers choose whatever research fits their policies. If there is none, then they ignore research. They know what they want to do, and no research will change their minds. They decide that “no child should be left behind” and ignore research showing that such a utopia never happened without kicking kids out or otherwise gaming the system. They say that teachers should be rated by the scores of their students but when research says that’s a truly stupid idea, they ignore research. When they boast about the glories of vouchers, charters, and competition, they conveniently ignore the Petri dish of Milwaukee, where this combination has been a disaster.