Eli Broad is counting his chickens before they're hatched. In a Detroit Free Press op-ed, he counts Washington, DC among urban school districts that "have successfully turned around after producing abysmal student outcomes."
Seems a bit premature to declare victory in DC schools, doesn't it? Apparently, Broad is confusing the implementation of his favored reforms with their success:
In every one of these cities, real changes for students happened only after mayors or governors took over and put in place strong leaders who had a serious desire to rebuild.
It's true that DC's test scores rose significantly a scant ten months after Mayor Fenty took over the schools and Michelle Rhee became superintendent. But those gains could just as well have resulted from her predecessor's efforts to upgrade and align standards, curriculum and assessments. Before those gains became news, Rhee herself argued quite reasonably that it would take a few years for her reforms to show results.
Broad's op-ed illustrates a common, though worrying, tendency. We celebrate a short-term improvement as proof positive of our favorite reform's success--And then we campaign to multiply that reform in every city across the land.
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