Styles of Education Reform

EARLY ON in the reform movement, many educators became interested in a wave of new education theories that offered new insights into the way students learn and retain knowledge. Some of these theories, including constructivism and multiple intelligence theory, continue to grow in popularity today. Yet the application of these new theories have not always gone so smoothly: as we shall later see in the debates over whole language and whole math, the enthusiastic rush to apply new theory into practice has not always met with the best results.

One of the greatest complaints over the American education system has been its top-down approach; for many years policymakers at the federal level have attempted to dictate education policy at the state and local level. Over time a broad grass-roots coalition of concerned parents and politicians began to push for more local control. This bottom-up approach to learning would be found in states gaining control from the federal government, districts gaining control from the states, schools gaining control from the districts, and eventually, parents gaining control from the schools. This movement has solidified into a broad family of policy concepts. With Site-Based Management (SBM) and teacher professionalization, schools and teachers are asserting more control over education management decisions. Non-profit charter schools and for-profit education management organizations offer students public school learning environments that break away from the traditional state-run system. Through school choice, parents can choose to take their students out of poorly run schools and place them into other institutions - including parochial schools in some cases. And an increasing number of families are choosing to reject classrooms altogether and adopt homeschooling instead.

Each attempt to take charge in school reform has come with ever-increasing calls for accountability. As will be seen, determining how to assess accountability and who should be held accountable for failing students is far from cut and dry.

Tell me more about:

MI Theory
Site-Based Management (SBM)
Teacher Professionalization
Charter Schools
Educational Management Organizations
School Choice

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