by Robert Pondiscio
February 10th, 2012

“President Obama and Secretary Duncan pushed the reform envelope as far as they could be expected with these waivers….We remain skeptical, however, of the storyline that says we are a nation filled with states chomping at the bit to do the right thing for children but which are hamstrung from doing so by federal bureaucrats and paperwork.” — Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform on states receiving waivers from compliance with No Child Left Behind (via This Week in Education)

I remain equally skeptical of the storyline that says schools are dysfunctional purely as a result of adult indifference or self-interest.

I see no reason to believe that failing schools are filled with tenured layabouts refusing to teach and not getting fired.  In my experience, such schools are mainly filled with decent people trying their best and failing. And with depressing regularity, they are failing despite doing exactly what they were trained to do–even because they are doing exactly what they were trained to do.

The entire edifice of accountability assumes that American education is essentially a sound product, but it’s delivered poorly. I see no evidence to suggest this is true. I see much evidence to suggest it’s not.