In the iSteve comments, Education Realist on why you never hear much about Education Reform anymore:
The utter collapse of ed reform in 2016 really hasn’t received much notice in the mainstream media, although the conservative branch of the old movement certainly talks about it.
Basically, there was a maelstrom of events that decimated the block of moderate right and progressive but neoliberal left that wanted to use charters and accountability to prove public schools were worthless (moderate right) or pressure public schools to improve (neo left). They got everything they wanted:
1) 16 years of two supportive presidents (on education reform, Bush and Obama were basically as one)
2) No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
3) teacher Value Added Model basically enforced by Obama Ed Secretary Arne Duncan
4) favorable rulings on tenure and union dues
5) Teach For America (TFA), Michelle Rhee, Mark Zuckerberg, Newark, New Orleans after Katrina–all sexy, media covered, opportunities for charters and accountability to take hold.
6) Common Core, a national curriculum that they could pretend wasn’t national and optional.
7) Most states added graduation tests and committed to increase grad rates.
And it all disappeared. Better yet, it all disappeared because the public *hated* it. NCLB was an obvious failure, since it’s impossible to get 100% above average. That led to NCLB waivers, which Duncan used to enforce school plans that committed to value added testing. Moreover schools that “adopted” Common Core were more likely to get waivers.
But suburban parents were pissed that their suburban schools were getting put on restrictions because one or two categories were not improving, and all the money that was spent on bumping up scores on very easy tests. Then they didn’t realize their states had adopted Common Core, because their states hadn’t told them, because the states didn’t think it’d be a big deal, until it suddenly was because all the textbooks changed in elementary school and worse, the tests were ridiculously hard (again, for elementary school. High school was largely unchanged by Common Core). That led to a testing backlash. I think for a while 1 in 5 NY kids (or maybe just NYC) opted out of testing.
Value Added Modeling was a disaster. A lot of times it was unfair, in that teachers were paid by results of kids they didn’t teach. Better yet, even when states scrupulously enforced fairness, the results were the same: 95% of teachers rated effective.
Meanwhile, California’s tenure ruling was overturned, and Campbell Brown’s anti-tenure lawsuits just fired their one full-time employee because they are running out of money. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus hasn’t really hurt unions at all–and even if it were, states with weak union protections are seeing teacher rebellions and walkouts that they’re helpless to stop.
All their success stories turned to shit. TFA is off the radar. Michelle Rhee has, last I checked, completely left education. Zuck’s billion went to teacher salaries, which is hilarious, and the whole effort abandoned while the woman in charge of it had her career (sadly) ruined. New Orleans is probably the closest they have to a success story, but the move to all charters is, as I predicted, leading to more and more constraints. They can’t just expel kids anymore, the teachers are unionizing, and they have a huge problem with dropouts that is exacerbated by kids who really aren’t “owned” by a district.
And if all that weren’t enough, the progressive side of ed reform went and lost its damn mind in the age of Trump and the conservative side of ed reform was, to a person, Never Trump. So both sides are completely out of power, and education isn’t something Trump gives a damn about.
It’s been kind of fun to watch. …
TFA: I did try to follow up on that over the years. However, something interesting happened to TFA over the next 18 months: enrollment collapsed. Now, enrollment dived in ed schools generally, so no one’s known if TFA’s collapse was related or not. But it’s still a shadow of its old self.
Moreover, TFA went full-blown progressive in the ed reform breakup. And that really took away its allure to both the media and actual ed reformers (who TFA now attacks).
For these reasons (and probably others), reporters aren’t interested in TFA, and without their pressure, TFA is under no constraint to talk about its diversity–or its selectivity. It’s very hard even to find data on its corps after 2016. …
I had a point. What was it? Oh, TFA.
TFA’s decline is very much part of that story. They were on the wrong side of things, and so even though their politics are correct, it’s nowhere near as cool. And of course, they may just have exploded during the years of recession.
If I had to guess, I’d say that they are more “diverse” now, because the students they originally set out for aren’t as interested.
Thanks for the kind words on my article. …
A lot of education reform fads have been driven by whatever Bill and Melinda Gates were interested in at the moment.
For example, the reading excerpts in the SAT verbal section used to be fiction & poetry oriented. Now they read like extracts from Slate.com. Why? Well, because David Coleman is head of the College Board so he revamped the SAT. He was hired to head the College Board because he previously had invented the Common Core so the CB figured he’d know how to “align” their test with the new semi-national curriculum. Why was Coleman successful at getting many states to adopt his Common Core? Because he’d sold his idea to Bill Gates, whose money pays for a large fraction of education think tanks in this country. What did Coleman and Gates have in common that they hit it off so well? Coleman was a star debater in high school with his teammate Hanna Rozin, whose husband David Plotz was the third editor of Slate. Bill Gates put up the money in the 1990s to found Slate under Plotz’s mentor Michael Kinsley.
So maybe Bill and Melinda got bored and moved on to other interests?