The Two Rhetorics of
School Reform: Complex
Theories versus the
Despite the plethora of reports and articles about school reform during the past decade, there has been distressingly little genuine dialogue between the two principal participants in the discussion. On the one hand are the educational researchers and policy experts, who are pleased that at last the nation has become interested in the plight of its schools. On the other side are arrayed the government, business, and community "opinion leaders," who are equally concerned about the schools, but whose analyses and recommendations are decidedly different from those of the educational leaders.
Unless the reasons for the lack of communication can be identified and dealt with satisfactorily, it is most unlikely that the critical problems of American precollegiate education can be dealt with effectively.
Among educators, a surprising degree of consensus exists about the nature of schools' problems and the kinds of solutions that are likely (and unlikely) to work. They believe schools' difficulties arise from a variety of sources, including the sharp rise in the incidence of broken homes, the lessening of respect for parents' and teachers' authority, the huge amount of time youths spend passively watching television, and the alarming decline of the quality of life in our cities. Over the decades, such factors have greatly complicated the process of delivering quality education; they cannot be alleviated by a "quick fix."