May 2012

Current School Reform Is Bad Math

Here is a list of reasons why the advocates and priorities of the current school reform movement don't add up.

Venture philanthropy is a relatively new concept (i.e. buzz word) in education reform, but it’s largely driving the education reform movement. Financed by billionaires, well-funded foundations and conservative PACs, and championed by everyone from Bill Gates to Michelle Rhee to U.S. Education Sectary Arne Duncan, the movement pushes for a free-market approach to public education. There are two fundamental issues with the movement; venture philanthropy advocates for a data-driven approach, but the data doesn’t support this type of school reform. The other issues is that applying a private sector solution to a public sector problem will inevitably change one into the other.

Here’s a run-down of the contradictions and lapses in logic guiding the current education reform agenda.

Michelle Rhee – A education reform darling and the poster child (along with her StudentsFirst organization) for cutting school budgets, increasing accountability, and attaching teacher pay to test scores; Rhee has exactly three years of real in-the-classroom experience from back in the 1990’s. Plus, she’s making a lot of money (personally) by being the poster child for this well-funded reform movement, which often has the effect of sustaining ideology even in the face of bad math.