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What Would Happen If We Let Them Go?

Interested in hearing your thoughts on a quote from Richard Elmore, the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which is taken from "What Would Happen if We Let Them Go?"

"As I read the collected entries in the Futures of School Reform Blog, they seem bright, energetic, combative, and optimistic about the future of the enterprise of American public schooling. I wonder, as I read them, whether the writers are aware of what classrooms in American secondary schools actually look like--the dismal, glacial, adult-centered, congenially authoritarian, mindless soup in which our children spend the bulk of their days. I wonder whether people are aware of how robust the old "bargain" is in the face of so-called "high stakes accountability;" how little the monolithic beast of American secondary education has been affected by the bright, high-minded optimism of professional reformers; how little the exemplars that professional reformers use to justify their role in society have actually affected the lives of adolescents.

I wonder, finally, what would happen if we simply opened the doors and let the students go; if we let them walk out of the dim light of the overhead projector into the sunlight; if we let them decide how, or whether, to engage this monolith? Would it be so terrible? Could it be worse than what they are currently experiencing? Would adults look at young people differently if they had to confront their children on the street, rather than locking them away in institutions? Would it force us to say more explicitly what a humane and healthy learning environment might look like? Should discussions of the future of school reform be less about the pet ideas of professional reformers and more about what we're doing to young people in the institution called school?"

What do you think? Are American high schools so dismal? Are professional reformers oblivious to the real needs of students? Are our expectations - for high schools, for students - too low? We want to hear from you!
November 27th, 2012 @ 10:46AM