Today’s Reformers Have a Major Blind Spot

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Reposted from the Thomas Jefferson Street Blog:

The education reform world is increasingly obsessed with “diversity.” Organizations and individuals are struggling to ensure people with different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have a place in the conversation about how to improve our schools. Although these efforts range from serious and thoughtful to plainly exhibitionist, it’s an important conversation – especially because public schools have never worked particularly well for minority students. Yet for all the attention to diversity, one perspective remains almost absent from the conversation about American education: The viewpoint of those who weren’t good at school in the first place.

Of course there are people in the education world who were not good students, or didn’t like their own schooling experience. But for the most part the education conversation is dominated by people who not only liked being in and around schools, they excelled at academic work (or at least were good at being good at it and staying on the academic conveyor belt). The result is an over-representation of elite schools and elite schooling experiences and little input from those who found educational success later in life or not at all.

The blind spots this creates are enormous and rarely ever mentioned. Elliot Washor, founder of The Met Center, an innovative school in Providence, Rhode Island, and co-founder of Big Picture Schools says he sees a cadre of education leaders who are like horses wearing blinkers in a race – unable to see the entire field.

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