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Lecture: What Schools Can't Do: Understanding the Chronic Failure of American School Reform by Professor David F. Labaree, Stanford University

Date: 04.05.2012
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: Pauling Hall 216

David Labaree

Abstract: In this lecture I explore a paradox.  On the one hand, American schooling has been an extraordinary success.  It started as a small and peripheral enterprise in the 18th century and grew into a massive institution at the center of American society in the 21st, where it draws the lion’s share of the state budget and a quarter of the lives of citizens.  Central to its institutional success has been its ability to embrace and embody the social goals that have been imposed upon it.  Yet, in spite of continually recurring waves of school reform, education in the U.S. has been remarkably unsuccessful at implementing these goals in the classroom practices of education and at realizing these goals in the social outcomes of education.  One reason for this, I suggest, is that the goals we impose on schools are filled with contradictions.  A second is that the organization of schooling makes it hard for reforms to penetrate the walls of the classroom.  A third, arising from reformer arrogance and ignorance, is that that schools are most often better off when reform efforts fail.  A fourth is that school reform is marginal to the larger process of school change, which is driven more by educational consumers than by educational reformers.

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