Education Next Takes Stock of 10 Years of School Reform

Education Next is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.* To mark the occasion, six editors at the journal have squared off in a debate about just how successful school reform efforts have been over the past decade.

“Many education reformers are feeling optimistic these days, willing to claim that they have won the war of ideas and that all that remains is mopping up a few leftover messes and working out the details of the new education regime that already exists in their minds,” write Paul Peterson, Chester Finn, and Marci Kanstoroom in “A Battle Begun, Not Won.” They continue, “Alas, we’re not so sanguine. It’s way, way too early to declare victory. Atop the cliffs and bastions that reformers are attacking, the enemy has plenty of weapons with which to hold its territory.”

The younger generation of editors at Education Next has a different concern. In “Pyrrhic Victories,” Rick Hess, Mike Petrilli and Marty West write, “Reformers have won some major battles over the past decade. The center of gravity in public debates has moved in important ways.” However, “many reformers are now overreaching the evidence and touting simplistic, slipshod proposals that are likely to end in spectacular failures. In short, some forces of reform are busy marching into the sea and turning notable victories into Pyrrhic ones.”

If you want to hear the arguments in this debate briefly summarized, check out this Ed Next video featuring Mike Petrilli and Chester Finn.  They ponder whether reformers should be more worried about the education establishment or about their own allies.

*Editor-in-chief Paul Peterson explains how the journal came about and recounts some of the highlights of the last ten years in “Happy 10th Anniversary, Education Next!

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