This post is part of our series entitled Teaching and Learning During a Pandemic, in which we invite guest authors to reflect on the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic for teaching and learning. Our guest today is Sherman Dorn, director of the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University. Other posts in the series are compiled here.
In the last recession, the federal government used the desperation of states as a lever (or maybe a fiscal piston) to push changes in state-level policy. Money and flexibility on NCLB’s mandates came with requirements. That last wave of school reform brought the Common Core State Standards, attacks on teachers and their unions, two giant state testing consortiums, and attempts to tie teacher careers to student test scores.
That prior reform wave did not help schools prepare for a pandemic or its aftermath.
And yet it looks like we have yet another cycle of schools-must-change rhetoric. There is now a little industry devoted to hot-takes about how this is the “end of X as we know it,” and there are plenty of entries in education, such as those from Conor Williams, David Mansouri, and Diane Ravitch -- as well as political calls for an education “rethink” from federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
From politicians especially, this rhetoric leaves me with the impression that they are trying to cover wishful thinking of different sorts with the facade of deep thought.