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Volume 12, Number 4
July/August 1996

The Disheartening Work of School Reform

Changing the fundamental rules and assumptions driving the status quo in education is harder than anyone imagined it would be


Defining a school's goals and standards is easy work compared with putting them into practice. As chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools, I recently visited Massey High School (not its real name), a member of the Coalition, and found myself faced with powerful evidence of this truth.

My visit was carefully orchestrated. First I had a chat with the senior administrators, all of us having coffee in mugs decorated with the school logo and motto: Go Tigers! The mood was sober, realistic, but still optimistic. A student arrived to show me around. We made brief visits to a few classes, these room-by-room forays serving more to interrupt each lesson than to enlighten me, and ended with an extended session listening to the massed concert band practicing Brahms's Academic Festival Overture.

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