Chicago Tribune Columnist Steve Chapman Weighs in on School Reform!

Dear Commons Colleagues,

When I taught in the school leadership program at Hunter College, I would get a question at least once or twice a semester from my students, all of whom were prospective assistant principals and principals, as to what works or what would work in reforming or turning a “problem” school around.   My response (which evolved over many years of teaching combined with my own experience as an administrator) was that there was no sure approach to reforming a school and that if you were assigned to such a school, you needed to examine every aspect of it:  teachers, students, staff, curriculum, etc. and make improvements in any and every aspect that you felt needed improvement.  I would also say that while you needed to be aware of the larger societal educational issues,  be careful of any quick fixes, and that you as a school leader needed to concentrate on your school and do whatever you could to improve it.

Yesterday the ChicagoTribune’s  columnist Steve Chapman wrote as good a summary as any that I have seen on what we have learned (or not) about school reform initiatives.   His conclusion was that all of the large-scale approaches (vouchers, charter schools, reducing class size, improved funding, etc.)  were not anywhere near as successful as proponents had hoped.  In sum,

“From the local school district to the federal Department of Education, humility, caution and open-mindedness are in order. Because right now, the main thing we know about improving schools is that we don’t know very much.”

The full article is available at the URL below:


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