Chester E Finn: Are we witnessing the end of education reform?

On the most recent podcast aired on the Education Gadfly Show hosted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Chester E. Finn, distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus at the institute, joined hosts Mike Petrilli and David Griffith. The topic: an article Finn co-wrote with Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, for the Summer 2022 issue of National Affairs about the bipartisan history – and uncertain future – of school reform.

Here is an excerpt of Finn’s remarks from the podcast:

We think that the consensus version of education reform is, if not dead, hibernating, and we’re not sure whether winter will ever end. The consensus form of education reform is the kind that was symbolized by No Child Left Behind, the kind of standards testing, accountability, and some school choice that managed to get both Republicans and Democrats on board in an extraordinary compromise, if not consensus.

That lasted a surprisingly long time, but it’s fallen apart for reasons that have a little to do with education and a lot to do with politics in American today, as well as a kind of overreach, in retrospect, on the part of the federal government that quickly got entangled in politics.

When the federal government starts telling people their schools are bad, or federal mentoring tells people their schools are bad, and they don’t believe it, then it gets associated with the government in Washington. If you’re already kind of ticked off about the government in Washington, this is a good reason to get ticked off about its education arrangements also.

So, winter may end some day, but right now it’s pretty chilly out there.

You can listen to the full podcast here.