Obstacles to Education Reform

“We can whenever, and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need, in order to do this. Whether we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.” (Dr. Ron Edmonds, Harvard, 1978)

 It is 30 years ago that the Effective Schools Movement was born with the speech by Dr. Edmonds: “Some Schools Work and More Can”. 

Much is known about what works and what doesn’t. However, there is no ONE cookie-cutter approach that succeeds with all children. That is why CHOICE is important, and why parents have to be involved in helping find effective solutions for their children’s educational needs.

But there are OBSTACLES

Here are a few to start the list:

  1. Educators still differ about reading, and each wants their side to win: Phonics or whole word.
  2.  There is a lot of experimentation going on in public schools. This is a large pool of captive audience, and while new methods are being tried out, critics by way of concerned parents are not welcome.
  3. Besides experimentation about methods, there are also agendas, some call it social engineering, molding the “new man”, social justice, progressive education, whatever…. Again, critics are not welcome.
  4. Choices are limited because of financial constraints. Parents, as do other citizens, don’t like to pay double for services. Why should they pay school taxes as well as fees to private school or  suffer wage loss to home educate if they want out of the public school system?
  5. Organized obstructionism happens when reforms are proposed. For example, state voucher reform legislation in Utah was soundly turned-back when the combined forces (financial, manpower, organizational) of the country-wide teacher union (NEA) first forced a referendum, then overwhelmed the Yes side.

Education reform won’t happen until the obstacles and obstructionism are understood and counteracted. AND parents need to be equipped with knowledge and a Charter of Parent Rights to pursue their children’s best educational interests.

My new TOPIC in my blog will be: Obstacles to Reform and I hope others will add to the list started above. Parent Rights already has its own Topic in this blog. 

I should stress that I am as concerned about public school parents as I am about all parents who feel thwarted or frustrated. For example, Section 6 of Parent Rights and Their Children’s Education (1977) strongly outlines: The Right to Safeguards concerning privacy, assessment, experiments and innovations and that parents have special rights in these instances:

  • to receive a written description of the program, rationale, goals and supporting references
  • to grant or refuse permission for their child’s attendance
  • to receive satisfaction that the program is run by qualified, well-prepared personnel
  • to be involved in the ongoing evaluation.
 The Right to Appeal decisions in a public school should also be well advertised and understood by parents.


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