What Reformers Need To Do Next

Are reformers undercutting their efforts by making exaggerated claims of success and ignoring non-school factors like poverty?  That's the gist of what New York Times writer Paul Tough says in a new commentary just out this week -- echoing what many critics and opponents have been saying for months or years and essentially endorsing the school+home approach taken by Geoff Canada and others.  (The writer is the author of the book about the Harlem Children's Zone called Whatever It Takes,)  Tough calls reformers to task for making excuses about the performance of kids attending schools that they are lauding.  This excuse-making includes Urban Prep, whose founder continues to defend the success of his school despite a 17 percent state test score pass rate compared to Chicago's 29 percent average. "These are excuses," writes Tough.  "In fact, they are the very same excuses for failure that the education-reform movement was founded to oppose." Instead of making excuses, the "no excuses" reformers need to acknowledge that what progress they've made isn't enough, that this is extraordinarily hard work, and -- most important -- to make wraparound social support services as big a priority as school-based reforms like value-added ratings for teachers and the rest. Read the whole piece here and then let us know what you think in comments.

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