The conservative educational reform movement, which still, after more than a decade, is the dominant force in school reform, has had little success in improving schools because it is based on invalid and self-defeating theoretical assumptions. Taken together, these assumptions have the effect of substituting nostalgia — a longing for the schools the reformers themselves attended —for policy and for increasing standardization at the expense of individual growth and development. The reformers (Bloom, Hirsch, Ravitch, Finn, Bennett, et al.) have particular difficulty, given their assumptions, in dealing both with individual differences among students and with ethnic and racial differences among groups of students, and hence have little useful to say about the most serious problems in American education. Their assumption that American schools are worse than they used to be is based on impressions and anecdotes, not research. Finally, their belief in the importance of tradition prevents them from seeing major changes in demography, in technology, and in the state of knowledge, which are affecting schools.



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