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Education reform

Education reform is the name given to the goal of changing public education. Historically, reforms have taken different forms because the motivations of reformers have differed. However, since the 1980s, education reform has been focused on changing the existing system from one focused on inputs to one focused on outputs (i.e., student achievement). In the United States, education reform acknowledges and encourages public education as the primary source of K-12 education for American youth. Education reformers desire to make public education into a market (in the form of an input-output system), where accountability creates high-stakes from curriculum standards tied to standardized tests. As a result of this input-output system, equality has been conceptualized as an end point, which is often evidenced by an achievement gap among diverse populations. This conceptualization of education reform is based on the market-logic of competition. As a consequence, competition creates inequality which has continued to drive the market-logic of equality at an end point by reproduce the achievement gap among diverse youth. Overall, education reform has and continues to be used as a substitute for needed economic reforms in the United States.

The one constant for all forms of education reform includes the idea that small changes in education will have large social returns in citizen health, wealth and well-being. For example, a stated motivation has been to reduce cost to students and society. From ancient times until the 1800s, one goal was to reduce the expense of a classical education. Ideally, classical education is undertaken with a highly educated full-time (extremely expensive) personal tutor. Historically, this was available only to the most wealthy. Encyclopedias, public libraries and grammar schools are examples of innovations intended to lower the cost of a classical education.

Related reforms attempted to develop similar classical results by concentrating on "why", and "which" questions neglected by classical education. Abstract, introspective answers to these questions can theoretically compress large amounts of facts into relatively few principles. This path was taken by some Transcendentalist educators, such as Amos Bronson Alcott. In the early modern age, Victorian schools were reformed to teach commercially useful topics, such as modern languages and mathematics, rather than classical subjects, such as Latin and Greek.

No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.
Education reform advocacy groups
  • Improved training
  • Higher credential standards
  • Generally higher pay to attract more qualified applicants
  • Performance bonuses ("merit pay")
  • Firing low-performing teachers
  • What to teach, at what age, and to which students. For example, at what age should children normally learn to read? Should all teenagers study algebra, or would it be more useful for them to take a mathematics class focused on statistics or personal finances?
  • Comer, J.P. (1997). Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can’t Solve Our Problems- and How We Can. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Cuban, L. (2003). Why Is It So Hard to Get Good Schools? New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • Darling-Hammond, Linda. (1997) The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools that Work. Jossey-Bass.
  • Dewey, J. and Dewey, E. (1915). Schools of To-morrow. New York: E.P. Dutton and Company.
  • Gatto, John Taylor (1992). Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Canada: New Society Publishers.
  • Glazek, S.D. and Sarason, S.B. (2007). Productive Learning: Science, Art, and Einstein’s Relativity in Education Reform. New York: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Goldstein, Dana (2014). The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession. Doubleday. ISBN . 
  • Goodland, J.I. and Anderson, R.H. (1959 and 1987). The Nongraded Elementary School. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
  • Green, Elizabeth (2014). Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN . 
  • Hanushek, Eric (2013). Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School. Brookings Institution. ISBN . 
  • James, Laurie. (1994) Outrageous Questions: Legacy of Bronson Alcott and America's One-Room Schools New York.
  • Katz, M.B. (1971). Class, Bureaucracy, and Schools: The Illusion of Educational Change in America. New York: Praeger Publishers.
  • Kliebard, Herbert. (1987) The Struggle for the American Curriculum. New York : Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Kohn, A. (1999). The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and 'Tougher Standards'. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
  • Murphy, J.H. and Beck, L.G. (1995). School-Based Management as School Reform: Taking Stock. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
  • Ogbu, J.U. (1978). Minority Education and Caste: The American System in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: Academic Press.
  • Ravitch, D. (1988). The Great School Wars: A History of the New York City Public Schools. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
  • Sarason, S.B. (1996). Revisiting 'The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change'. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Sarason, S.B. (1990). The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform: Can We Change Course Before Its Too Late? San Francisco: Josey-Bass, Inc.
  • Sizer, T.R. (1984). Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Tough, Paul. (2008). Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Tough, Paul. (2012). How Children Succeed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Tyack, David and Cuban, Larry. (1995) Tinkering Toward Utopia: a century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Zwaagstra, Michael; Clifton, Rodney; and Long, John. (2010) What's Wrong with Our Schools: and How We Can Fix Them. Rowman & Littlefield.


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