Who judges whether a reform is a success or not in education?

Excellent question, posed by Larry Cuban, on the case history of the once-widely-celebtrated Gary Plan for education.About 100 years ago, its blend of manual and mental training, along with night schools for recent immigrants, was seen as a marvel and widely copied. Now nobody remembers it even existed, partly because of how they defined ‘success’, according to Cuban. Here’s the link

I’ve certainly noticed that if you ask people about any sort of reform, you NOT necessarily find agreement. I have spoken to Turks who vehemently deny that there was any sort of systematic genocide of Armenians roughly a century ago, and Chinese who deny that anything bad is happenig in Tibet. There are even people who defend the memory of Genghis Khan, Franco, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and the KKK!


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  1. Why of why do we do an “experiment” aka a reform without a statement of what constitutes success. This is exactly the way we allow politicians to promise us anything and then ignore the promises when they get elected. Each should establish the basis on how they should be judged for re-election before they are elected each time. Then when they announce their campaign for re-election, an agenda for discussions will have already been set and measures of success or failure already agreed upon.

    People always acknowledge that a failure is not necessary due to any one factor, but to not even discuss the promises made because we “forgot” is inexcusable.

    All reforms, political or educational, should have measures of success hard-wired in before they are attempted.


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