Education Change?

KDeRosa is dubious about education change under Obama. This is not an uncommon view. It's strange that such hope can be so easily halted just by knowing that the education industry is a complete mess, and not even our dream President-elect can do much about it. I am afraid I agree with the post from D-Ed Reckoning:

I've come back from my unannounced hiatus to discover that we have a brand new president.

A president that is for change. And, apparently, hope as well.

I "hope" that none of you wasted any time reading either candidate's platform. What politicians say they are going to do is very different from what they actually do once you've given them power. But you can rest assured that once elected their actions they will be consistent with them accruing power and ensuring that they retain power by getting re-elected. Keep that in mind because what you've just been promised (by both candidates) is inconsistent with their desire for power. Suffice it to say that you will be disappointed, and you would have been disappointed regardless of who was elected. That is the nature of politics.

Here is my prediction for education:

There will be change. That change will be superficial with respect to improving academic performance. It is extremely difficult to improve academic performance. The odds of academic performance improving in the next eight years in an educationally significant way are virtually nil.

It is easier to reduce academic performance by unwittingly changing things for the worse. This is because educating children is a difficult orchestration of detail that is difficult to get right and easy to screw-up. This remains true even though our current system remains horridly inefficient with much of the orchestration being badly out of tune.

Nonetheless the most likely scenario is that the change will produce no significant effect on outcomes. That is the history of education reform.

I wish my new president well but I don't have much hope that he is capable of improving education. He doesn't know how. And, as a result, he has no basis for selecting an education secretary that knows any better. Even an ideologically blind random selection is unlikely to produce better results because the field is replete with charlatans. Even if he were lucky enough to pick a winner, it is unlikely that that person could overcome the obstacles and vested interests in place that are anathema to improving academic performance.

We're going to get change. We always do. NCLB was change. But change doesn't guarantee improvement. Did you jump to that conclusion? I hope not. What you will get is something different, but that difference will likely not be an improvement.

There will be no shortage of wishful thinking and opinions of advisors. But since those opinions are almost certainly based on faulty science and informed by political correctness you should not necessarily expect beneficial results. Unless you're counting on luck. That's always a possibility. Even broken clocks are correct twice a day. Though, unfortunately, a clock that is five minutes slow is never correct.

That's what you're going to get -- an education secretary that is slow, broken, or both. Kind of like the current one.

So here's my prediction: the change you get in education will be different but not an improvement.

Let's hope that I am wrong. But don't count on it.

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