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The Futures of School




by Dean T. Spaulding and John Falco, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, Mass., 2013, 176 pp., $53.80 softcover

Thirty years of the reform de jour hasn’t brought about fundamental change to America’s schools. The authors of The Futures of School Reform, a collection of writings that followed three years of scholarly Harvard discussions, find little difference in teacher quality, knowledge base, tracked courses and parental support since the issuance of “A Nation At Risk” in 1983. Students still exhibit a wide achievement gap along racial and socioeconomic lines, and international comparisons remain the same, they claim.

The readings provide serious, challenging arguments about the prevailing paradigm of the institution we call school.

The writings address six potential roads for school reform. Though each direction holds merit the selection and training of teachers, coupled with the overall integration of other social agencies into schools, struck me as particularly appealing.

Moving out of the Industrial Age in our school practices and policies and into what this work calls the “Professional World” for teachers and students seems a must no matter which course of action is chosen.

The Futures of School Reform is an excellent work for policymakers, especially state legislators and governors, and anyone else who might benefit from an excellent summative review of our failed attempts at turning around K-12 education and, most importantly, addressing this question: “How do we think about a successful reform strategy?” 

Reviewed by Joseph Rudnicki, education consultant, Aptos Calif.


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