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Bridging the Gap Between Educational Policy and Practice: An Essay Review on What We Believe About America’s Students and Schools


by Aaron Cooley - April 18, 2006

Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools—And Why It Isn’t So. Jay P. Greene. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Inc. 2005. ISBN 0-7425-4977-1. Pp. xii + 267. In the Trenches: A Teacher’s Defense of Public Education. Dennis Fermoyle. Edina, MN: Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc. 2005. ISBN 1-59298-121-6. Pp. vi + 117. At the beginning of each course I teach, I have students introduce themselves to the class and to me. My guidelines are straightforward: name, major, hometown, interest level in the course, and any interesting facts about themselves. Some students always groan at this and others, who are not accustomed to public speaking, slump into their seats. This introduction process can seem daunting when you have a large class or when you have three or four successive classes of 30 students each, but it is profoundly worth it. Quite simply, the backgrounds of students matter. As unprofound... (preview truncated at 150 words.)

Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools—And Why It Isn’t So. Jay P. Greene. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Inc. 2005. ISBN 0-7425-4977-1. Pp. xii + 267.


In the Trenches: A Teacher’s Defense of Public Education. Dennis Fermoyle. Edina, MN: Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc. 2005. ISBN 1-59298-121-6. Pp. vi + 117.



At the beginning of each course I teach, I have students introduce themselves to the class and to me. My guidelines are straightforward: name, major, hometown, interest level in the course, and any interesting facts about themselves. Some students always groan at this and others, who are not accustomed to public speaking, slump into their seats. This introduction process can seem daunting when you have a large class or when you have three or four successive classes of 30 students each, but it is profoundly worth it. Quite simply, the backgrounds of students matter. As unprofound as it may seem, there are few educational axioms that are more correct.  


Certainly, backgrounds also matter when we consider the author of a text. The author’s perspective, intellectual training, and even the identity of the reviewer that appears on the dust jacket of the volume can persuade or dissuade a reader from choosing to invest the time in reading a book. In this essay review, I will examine works from two authors with very different backgrounds and with very different perspectives on the state of American public education. One volume is from Jay Greene, a Harvard Ph.D. who is well-versed in public policy and complex statistics. The other text comes from Dennis Fermoyle, a career teacher and coach who has taught in what seems like a typical American suburb. Their views on education differ substantially at points and yet are surprisingly similar on other issues. What is striking about these volumes, when paired, is one central question that each raises. Namely, with the factionalism in the politics of education, can we find any common ground in fixing America’s educational problems? This is a legitimate and pressing question, which requires an inquiry into the growing gulf between America’s educational factions. For example, there would seem to be little room for discussion between avid readers of Education Next1 and The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies.2 These journals’ readers would likely disagree essentially on every point that the other journals readers would try to make.   


So, what is the point in slamming these ideological trains together? It is that we must be aware of the exacerbation of this educational divide, so that we do not end up just reading and responding to our own research niche. Such actions will only encourage rhetorical extremism, area specific jargon, and detachment from civil debates and a democratic dialogue on what is best for America’s students. Obviously, factionalism is not unique to education as an academic and policy debate; however, the stakes in education are different from scholarly disputes over interpretations of Beowulf and policy disputes over the best means of garbage collection. So, I often wonder what is the purpose of any new text that I pick up? Does the author want to preach to the converted, antagonize and decry the opposition, or actually try to persuade others to see and believe in his or her point of view? In evaluating these texts, I will attempt to see who their target audiences are and what subtext lies beneath their surface rhetoric.


In Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools—And Why It Isn’t So by Jay Greene, we get a narrative based on empirical, scientific studies of educational issues. Greene’s central objective in this volume is to tackle the conventional wisdom of education and to state that the public has been misled—and that he has the data to prove it. From the title, we know he is a self-described educational myth buster ready to knock down “The High Stakes Myth,” “The Exeter Myth,” and “The Class Size Myth” among others. He is here to save parents and children from further expensive mediocrity and failure in their public schools. Yet, Greene clearly has a policy (and some would say a political agenda), but I would encourage scholars that might be turned off by his affiliation with the Manhattan Institute not to automatically dismiss this work. Nor should pro-school choice and free marketers in education immediately jump to his defense for this connection. Obviously, the work should speak for itself.   


Before delving into one of Greene’s myths, one particular point needs to be made. It is that a number of the myths Greene describes seem to be straw men, in that they are not really as widely held or advanced with the tenacity that Greene wants to make us think. Particularly, I am thinking of his discussion of accountability. It seems quite clear that the educational mainstream has accepted that accountability is now an inevitable part of reform. They may still voice distress about it and the accountability that Greene desires may not have taken root, but accountability is far from being a myth in education. Right or wrong, accountability is a reality in schools, districts, states, and nationally.


Greene begins the text by giving this rationale for his work:   


Unfortunately, much of what people believe today about education is as mythological as anything from Homer to Aesop, even if it isn’t nearly as poetic. Education policy is dominated by myths. Some of the most prominent education myths are that schools perform poorly because they need more money, that high-stakes testing only leads to teaching to the test and manipulation of the results, that the research on school choice is mixed and inconclusive, and that school choice leads to increased segregation. These myths, like many others, are plausible, attractive, and not entirely without some empirical support. (p. 1–2)


This acutely shows Greene’s sensibility to those that believe in the myths he discusses. He acknowledges that there are some seductive qualities to the myths. He also leaves open the door for disputing these myths by saying they have some empirical support and therefore, by extension, he leaves them open to alternative interpretation. Therefore, we have a mixed bag of assertions at the outset.  Greene then moves to an offensive posture and suggests the political rationale behind the propagation of the myths he has identified:


But by far the most important reason myths dominate education policy is that they are promoted by organized interests. . . . To gain an advantage in debates over policy, interest groups promote myths that support their positions. . . . Their goal is simply to advance their agendas; they are relatively indifferent to whether their claims are based on myths or facts. (p. 2)


Yet, we have no smoking gun. There is no direct evidence to provide support for this claim. Further, it is cynical to suggest that teachers and their surrogates do not do what is best for kids just to make their jobs easier and more financially rewarding by promoting these myths. Here we need more evidence to make this accusation plausible.


Next, Greene moves to making a distinction between belief based on evidence and belief based on essentially inchoate ideas that have coalesced into an education myth. He makes his claim to the truth in the following manner:


In this book, we have attempted to adjudicate which educational policy claims are supported by the evidence and which are myths. We are not just naysayers knocking down everything in sight as a myth. . . . And we recognize that not everyone will agree with all our assessments of the evidence. We encourage our readers to listen to the assessments of others. . . . As long as the debate is based strictly on the evidence, we welcome it. We trust that informed readers will be able to compare the various claims about the evidence and draw the appropriate conclusions. (p. 3–4)


Now, I must commend Greene for again acknowledging the possibility of another perspective. Yet, the focus on the evidentiary (read quantitative) questions masks the point that other non-quantitative data may not carry the same weight. In effect, Greene suggests that his statistical studies trump mere anecdotal evidence—because governmental policy is never made on the basis of anecdotal evidence.


One myth, of the 18, that particularly stands out and that is indicative of Greene’s rhetoric and perspective is the “The Money Myth.” This myth is used as an exemplar of the entire work, specifically, because it is so central to the debates on educational reform. In “The Money Myth,” Greene restates what he thinks is a predominant misunderstanding of America’s public schools—they don’t have enough money. He claims, “The assertion that schools need more money is so omnipresent that most Americans simply accept the truth of the claim unconsciously” (p. 7). We can guess that Greene feels that the numbers may dispute what evidently many of Americans incorrectly believe.  However, Greene runs into a major problem of trying to use statistical data to disprove dramatic and negative snapshots of the state of America’s schools in works by eminent writers such as Jonathan Kozol in Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (1991) and more recently in The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America (2005). Green is clear about his perspective on Kozol’s work, stating:


Another factor fueling the Money Myth is a common tendency to accept anecdotes about needy schools without much critical thought. In his best-selling Savage Inequalities, Kozol profiles a New York City school that meets in a converted roller-skating rink. . . . The trouble with this sort of anecdotal reasoning is not only, or even primarily, that the poor condition of a few schools is not necessarily representative of the condition of schools generally. (p. 17)


Greene’s numbers seem pretty dramatic at the outset. Yet, Kozol does use data in addition to his dramatic and moving descriptions of students and teachers trying to provide an education in dilapidated facilities and with few support resources for teachers. Clearly, there is a chasm between rich and poor districts in funding that is unmistakable, and students feel these effects.


Greene then moves to how much more education costs today. No doubt spending has certainly jumped the past few generations, but the causes of this increase and the interpretation of why it has occurred may be less settled than Greene contends. He gives us this snapshot of costs:


Few people are aware that our education spending per pupil has been growing steadily for fifty years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, at the end of World War II public elementary and secondary schools in the United States spent a total of $1,214 per student in inflation-adjusted 2001-2002 dollars. By the middle of the 1950s that figure had roughly doubled to $2,345. By 1971–1972 it had almost doubled again, reaching $4,479. And in the thirty years since then, it has doubled a third time, climbing to $8,745 in 2001–2002 (see figure 1.1). (p. 9)


One has to question a couple of assumptions about what these increases went to in understanding why this spending very well might be justified. For example, the student and school of the 1950s are dramatically different than the student and school of the present day. Just a few of the substantial and costly differences between schools in the past and the present are computers, smartboards, school security, test administrators, school based social workers and psychologists. Greene might very well say that if these changes have not improved achievement on assessments, then they should be eliminated. Of course, these resources have become necessities in the modern educational environment, and cutting the resources could lead to reductions in achievement and a further lack of international competitiveness.


The main rationale behind Greene’s conclusion that more money will not help schools comes from student achievement on the NAEP. He states, “For twelfth-grade students, who represent the end product of the education system, NAEP scores are basically flat over the past thirty years (p. 10).” His point that students have not made substantial jumps in achievement is hard to dispute, at least on the NAEP. However, this is only one measure of student performance. One has to ask what other measure could be used to judge the success of students and schools and ask a deeper question of what we mean by improvement and performance. For Greene, what defines improvement and performance, and even how these are measured, are settled questions, but to other educational factions these concepts are not as fixed, finite, or nearly as settled.


It is at this point that Greene begins to take on the educational scholars who have provided alternative perspectives on educational funding and achievement over past decades. Greene contends:


In their book The Manufactured Crisis, David Berliner of Arizona State University and Bruce Biddle of the University of Missouri claim that students today have higher disability rates, are more likely to speak a native language other than English, have greater health-care needs, and are more likely to be poor than in the past, rendering them less easily teachable than they used to be. (p. 14)


The concerns raised by Berliner and Biddle are quite legitimate, and yet Green is relatively quick to dismiss their efforts. Here, we begin to see one of the overriding themes of Greene’s criticism of the myth makers—that their research is not rigorous or scientific enough to draw appropriate and valid conclusions. Green puts it this way: “Most important, Berliner and Biddle do not attempt to systematically measure the overall level of students’ advantages and disadvantages. Instead, they isolate a few factors on which they claim conditions have worsened and present only those factors to the reader” (p. 15). Of course, readers who are not familiar with The Manufactured Crisis should read it before judging if Greene’s comments are fitting.


In the next section, Greene sums up and describes the arena on which he feels educational policy discussions must be waged. This arena has no room for the assertion that schools need more money, since he believes the evidence unequivocally demonstrates that it won’t help them to educate students any better.  He concludes,


No doubt there is plenty of room for debate on how best to reform our school system. However, that can’t happen in a constructive way until Americans realize that schools are not inadequately funded—they would not perform substantially better if they had more money. The empirical evidence simply doesn’t allow for this to be the case. The sooner people realize how the Money Myth is distorting their view of the school system, the sooner we can have a productive debate on how to make that system better. (p. 19)


Even if one totally disagrees with the interpretation of the evidence on funding and achievement, one can possibly grant that schools must continue to look critically at how they are spending existing dollars educating students. Policy makers and politicians should not shy away from trusting teachers to know what works for their students. External measures of achievement are important, but we cannot forget that teachers are on the frontlines of education (to extend Dennis Fermoyle’s metaphor); and they know what works best because they have the most contact with students.


It must also be mentioned that another interpretation of the increase in funding is that without the bolstering of school funding, achievement would have dropped off precipitously over the past generation. This is not an optimistic suggestion, but an acknowledgement of the realities of a complex educational world. Just because increases in funding have only maintained achievement does not mean that a critical mass of additional funding would not open new opportunities for schools that are presently only struggling to keep their heads above water.


In concluding the volume, Green is able to distill the various myths into a general principle of what is hampering schools from improvement. The key for Greene is to turn education into another policy arena that is subject to the same market forces in which other policy arenas must compete. Greene airs his frustrations in this manner:


Surveying these myths, we can see a pattern emerging across most of them. One might call it a “meta-myth.” It is a belief that education is different from other policy areas in that the types of incentives that normally shape human behavior do not shape educational behavior. . . . But when it comes to education, people seem to believe that incentives just don’t apply (p. 218).


Of course, again, we have a definitional problem as there are many incentives in education. There are incentives for students from schools to do well, such as special parking privileges and vouchers for goods and services in their communities. There are also incentives for teachers in the way of payment of supplements, if they assist the school in achieving higher status on state achievement. Principals and superintendents can have substantial financial inducements to make their schools more successful. Yet, these are only pecuniary incentives. Many would argue that there are a plethora of other non-monetary incentives. These would include students having the personal incentive to do well to better themselves and to contribute to their community. Teachers and administrators wanting their students to do well is also an incentive to show that they are good at what they do.


Greene’s discussion of incentives on teacher pay takes a little different track and somewhat contradicts “The Money Myth.” Although many educators and policy makers support increasing teacher pay both to reward existing teachers and to recruit new ones, Greene spent a lot of energy up to this point saying more money will not help. He states,


Requiring teachers to be certified, and paying them more for accumulating certificates, advanced degrees, and years of experience, does not improve education outcomes. And here the evidence uncovers another way in which incentives shape the education field. People who go into teaching tend to have low academic abilities not because teachers are underpaid—they aren’t—but because teacher pay does not reward academic aptitude. (p. 219)


This swipe at teachers does not seem to help further Greene’s point, as it is unclear if he is suggesting that educators should or should not be paid more as an incentive. If he thinks that pay increases for teachers would attract “better” teachers, that would seem to undercut the idea that more money spent in education will not improve outcomes down the road. Greene’s caveat could be that this money would have accountability strings attached, but what money spent in education has ever not had strings attached to it?


The other possible way out for Green is to allege that previous increases in educational spending have gone to bloated bureaucracies or other administrative costs. This is a fallacy though; if one looks at any state’s educational budget, one will see that most of the money goes to instructional salary. Education budgets are lean compared to the guaranteed profits and graft common to other governmental policy spheres. So, on this point of incentives and costs, Greene’s position is difficult to grasp.


Greene concludes by returning to the ground that assures his readers that he is willing to have a debate as long as it is on his playing field. To Greene these myths are myths—end of story. In fact, as we have seen just with the discussion of incentives and the money myth, these issues are far less settled than Greene is willing to admit. Since these debates are not settled matters, scholars may stick to the conventional wisdom out of habit or because the widely held position is true. Not to mention, most of the public and policy makers are not statisticians and believe that statistics can be used to prove anything. Unfortunately, for Greene this social fact still trumps any claims to purely empirical facts.


In turning to Dennis Fermoyle’s In the Trenches: A Teacher’s Defense of Public Education, a very different perspective emerges. What comes across quickly and often is that for Fermoyle, education is not just a policy issue to be studied. Rather, education has been his life and his writing reflects this passion for teaching. His analysis of American education is admittedly based on anecdotes and he makes no claims that his analysis is hard social science. However, his stories are vivid and compelling insights follow his experiences in the classroom. He has no columns of data or charts of trends from which to base his conclusions, but his type of experience-centered analysis can be extremely effective in a political context. This, of course, is precisely the type of work that must frustrate Greene. Yet, in politics, perception is reality and memorable; and powerful anecdotes can carry more sway with the public and policy makers than all of the quantitative data in the world.


Fermoyle’s work is honest and sometimes shocking in its frankness. Some of his comments set the conventional wisdom about teachers on its head. Further, Fermoyle reveals a perspective that he feels is widely held by many teachers. This provides the reader the chance to revaluate what many scholars and policy makers think about America’s educators and, therefore, our schools.


In the beginning of the text, Fermoyle voices a common and well-taken gripe that many teachers have against the numerous critics of the profession:


One particularly frustrating thing about being a teacher is that everyone thinks that they know how to do my job. Very few people would ever dare to tell a doctor how to do his job, and not many would ever dare to tell a lawyer how to do hers. . . . But almost everyone has gone to school, so just about everyone has an opinion about teaching and how it should be done.  (p. 2)


This demonstrates the antagonism teachers can encounter, which can certainly reduce morale and fuel teacher burnout.


In chapter 2, “The Key Ingredient,” Fermoyle describes what he claims is essential to making schools better. His experience guides him to assert:


Thirty-one years of teaching seventh through twelfth graders has convinced me that the single most important factor in determining how much learning takes place in a high school classroom is the make-up of the students. In other words, how many motivated students are there in that classroom? (p. 17)


This is somewhat shocking as it places the nexus of educational success outside of the teachers’ hands. Some might say Fermoyle is overly cynical about the motivation of students, but his perspective deserves the chance to be aired, having given so many years to education. He continues this line of thought describing the less mentioned gritty nature of education:


In reality, the most disruptive students are mean, sneaky, rebellious game players. . . . The game of the disruptive student is to go as far as possible and get away with as much as possible without actually getting kicked out of the class (p. 20).


This seems a little harsh especially to those teachers and scholars that embrace a caring centered pedagogy. However, Fermoyle hints that this attitude is more common than one might expect in the classroom, even if it is rarely expressed. It also opens the dialogue about how a teacher’s finite time in each class needs to be directed. In that, Fermoyle makes this statement within a context that illustrates his anger towards students who try to negatively impact the learning of students who are making an effort.  


Along a similar line, Fermoyle darts back to performance and achievement in school. Needless to say, his take has a different focus than Greene and showcases the chasm that can exist between tracts on educational policy by experts and those from practitioners. He claims,


Students perform poorly not because schools don’t care about them, but in the great majority of cases, because the students don’t care themselves. It’s impossible to say exactly why any particular student decides that education isn’t important, but if we look too hard for the reason, we forget who is ultimately responsible for that decision. If we really want to improve education in America, we need to start by making it clear that the student, more than anyone else, is responsible for his or her own education. Instead of blaming the schools when someone dosen’t perform well, we should look at the student first (p. 36).


This claim that the student must be responsible for his own learning certainly has different resonance at different levels of education. Fermoyle’s experience has been mainly in the upper grades where independent learning should be an integral part of equipping high school students with the skills to succeed in higher education or the workforce. If, however, these comments are directed towards education in a K–3 context, they seem more out of place—as the majority of younger children benefit in learning with assistance. In this area, Fermoyle’s comments need a little more tailoring to a specific educational context.


Fermoyle focuses on some of the misconceptions that he believes the public has about educators in chapter 4, which is entitled “Thirty Hours, My Foot!” One of the central parts of his commentary is the “revelation” that most good teachers do not like having poor teachers around anymore than policy makers and parents do. He shares his experience and gives his opinion thusly:


I have to admit that I have known incompetent teachers. These were teachers who quit making any yearly changes in their curriculum, and they quit preparing for their classes on a day-to-day basis, and they just quit caring. Despite the fact that I completely disagree with our critics about the number of incompetent teachers, I completely agree with them that it should be much easier to get rid of them than it is. Bad teachers give the rest of us a bad name that we don’t deserve.  (p. 58)


We also see in this excerpt that Fermoyle has found some common ground with the educational right in the notion of giving principals more control of hiring and firing. Yet, the grounds for determining which teachers are good and which are incompetent could erase this agreement quite quickly.


Into the next section, we see how quickly negotiated positions and common ground can erode. Fermoyle aptly describes how a reform notion injected into an educational system, which is supposed to deliver dramatic results, instead produces paltry ones. Fermoyle notes,


Critics of public school teachers give the impression that if there were no tenure, large numbers of teachers would be replaced. I don’t think that would happen, because I believe most of us work hard and do a good job, and I believe most people in our local communities—including our principals—recognize that. I find it interesting that some of the strongest advocates for getting rid of teacher tenure have been disappointed when they have gotten their way. Peter Brimelow bemoans the fact that after Oregon got rid of teacher tenure, almost every teacher in the state was rehired anyway. (p. 62)


Here, we can also see that just changing certain rules to introduce a more market feel to education does not necessarily create the desired outcomes of the supporters of the changes. Just making it easier to get rid of bad teachers does not mean you will have a sea change in who is in the teaching profession, because as Fermoyle attests, most teachers, as judged by their peers and principals, are doing yeoman’s work and doing it pretty well.


The next point is Fermoyle’s contention, and it is one that many teachers voice: that making them responsible for how well they teach is fine. They just want to be included in the process so that it is an accurate assessment of their skills. Fermoyle and many others across the educational spectrum feel the most recent federal effort has missed its mark. He states,


The teachers in our school would have no qualms about being held accountable if someone proposed a reasonable way to see if we are doing our jobs effectively. But the accountability that is being proposed by our national educational reform plan, No Child Left Behind, is not reasonable. (p. 97)


Of course, reasonableness is in the eye of the beholder. Teachers who face being held directly responsible for students’ performance on finite assessments of knowledge may disagree with policy makers about the reasonableness of this reform.


Nearing the conclusion of Fermoyle’s text, he turns to the matter of school choice.  In discussing it, he gives a defense that is quite uncommon, and one that also defines the importance of direct experience in a policy issue when confronting a policy problem. He asserts that


Vouchers are a problem and an overall danger for public education because public schools need those voucher students if they are going to improve. Every time a motivated student from a family with parents who care about education is taken out of a public school, it becomes less likely that the school will be successful. (p. 99)


School choice advocates might quickly suggest that the pressure and competitive forces that schools would face would force them to improve regardless of the levels of parental involvement and student motivation. However, Fermoyle’s direct experience in the classroom clearly suggests otherwise. He has seen what a few motivated students can do to bring along their peers in his class. It seems that a school with fewer of these students would be a more difficult place to teach than if those students remained and contributed to that educational community.


After expressing frustration, tales of the joy of teaching, and the struggles he has weathered, Fermoyle has two overriding prescriptions for improving public education. Somewhat surprisingly, they might even be notions that Greene would support.  Fermoyle states,


I am convinced that two changes would improve education in America, and if you’ve been paying attention, you probably already have an idea what they are. The first would involve giving more power to teachers. No, I’m not talking about powers that union-haters find so alarming, like making school policy or forcing school boards to raise salaries. I’m talking about the power for teachers to run their classrooms in a way that allows them to use their training, experience, and common sense to make decisions in the best interest of those students who are really interested in getting an education. My second change would be to grant more power to principals and other administrators to run their schools as they see fit, and to make sure that teachers are doing their jobs. (p. 105)


This could be termed and summed-up as the return of local control to education. If teachers are well-trained, mentored, and have opportunities for a diverse set of professional development activities, then the school they teach in will be better. If, however, teachers’ roles are diminished and they are given less control and principals’ hands are tied by state regulations and unfunded mandates, we should not be surprised when national assessments indicate that most students and schools are just getting by.


Overall, these contrasting volumes give us a window into two views on education and also a window into what personally leads us to our beliefs in this-or-that educational policy and this-or-that educational ideology. Some scholars will always stick to positivist social science and demand that this is all that should matter. Yet, others are much more interested in subjective knowledge and are apprehensive of objective claims to truth made with only a certain set of methods. In Greene’s Education Myths, we see a crusade to make educational policy exclusively about data and evidence. However, just pointing to the data will not, in and of itself, persuade everyone to his view. Similarly, more subjective modes of inquiry, such as Fermoyle’s, may hold all the answers, but they will always have little standing with Greene and his allies.


Yet, my general question of what persuades us to change our views and whose perspective we take up may be naïve. Frankly, who is ever really persuaded to jump from one ideological or methodological ship to another? Maybe it happens, but it seems unlikely that anyone who regularly publishes in Education Next is going to have a methodological/ideological conversion and contribute a piece to The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies and vice versa. Most likely this quandary does not matter as educational policy debates can accept diverse voices and points of view. Nonetheless, we must not forget that the center to the body politic and dialogue between factions is as important to democracy as is dissenting from the perceived status quo be it from the right or the left. Some might think that a willingness to change perspectives or engage with those who deeply disagree demonstrates a lack of conviction about one’s own position. However, I would assert that if we are not open and flexible to novel educational ideas and are not willing to engage in a more deliberative democratic dialogue about how to remake our schools, we will simply plod on in a battle of entrenched wills—and this certainly will not serve the educational interests of students any better than they are served now.



Notes


 http://www.educationnext.org/about.html. The journal’s mission statement, from their website, is “In the stormy seas of school reform, this journal will steer a steady course, presenting the facts as best they can be determined, giving voice (without fear or favor) to worthy research, sound ideas, and responsible arguments. Bold change is needed in American K–12 education, but Education Next partakes of no program, campaign, or ideology. It goes where the evidence points.”


2 http://www.jceps.com/index.php?pageID=home. The scope of this journal follows: “The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies seeks and publishes articles that critique global, national, neo-liberal, neo-conservative, New Labour, Third Way, and postmodernist analyses and policy, together with articles that attempt to report on, analyse and develop socialist/Marxist transformative policy for schooling and education. The journal therefore welcomes articles from academics and activists throughout the globe. It is a refereed international journal.”




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 18, 2006
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12489, Date Accessed: 10/23/2021 8:19:49 PM

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About the Author
  • Aaron Cooley
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    E-mail Author
    AARON COOLEY holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has mentored, tutored, and taught students in a range of diverse educational settings. Previously, he worked at the North Carolina General Assembly. Aaron is dedicated to improving the educational and economic opportunities of all Americans through innovative ideas in public policy. His writing has appeared in Educational Studies, Educational Theory, International Journal of Philosophical Studies and Political Studies Review.
 
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