The persistence of “factory”-style schools

Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute asksWhy Do ‘Anti-Corporatists’ Defend Factory-Style Leadership?”  There’s a lot in there I’d like to respond to; here’s my first swing at it.

It’s easy to blame hidebound educators for educational malaise, and some of the blame lands justly. But you cannot begin to understand the problem until you realize how strenuously parents resist any change that means their kids aren’t learning it the way they did. If education “looks different”, it is distrusted and undervalued. (Witness the growing backlash over Common Core.)

Also, it’s all well and good to note that “old giants … have given way to” newer leaders but the process was long, drawn-out, and quite bloody. Not many people have the drive or fortitude to subject their children to that kind of chaos (whether or not they should).

Final thought: Early 20th century progressives importing “the best practices of private industry to American education” gave rise to the stultifying, deadening public schools this author so loudly decries. Why should we expect that listening to industry would be better this time?

Actually, I’m fairly sure this author has spent only superficial time in modern classrooms. The screed reads a lot like someone who’s dimly recalling his own days in school and overlaying those memories with a thin mix of “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “Blackboard Jungle”. There is actually a lot of innovation in schools today and — though you won’t hear this on the AEI site ever — even test scores have been rising, albeit slowly.

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