Why Do Some School Reforms Last?

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

School reformers seek to fix problems. Many of these “solutions” appear and disappear again and again–as the previous post argued. Yet some past reforms do stick.  How come?

In investigating school reforms that have taken place over the last century and a half, I have divided them into incremental and fundamental changes (see here and here). Incremental reforms are those that aim to improve the existing structures of schooling; the premise behind incremental reforms is that the basic structures are sound but need improving to remove defects. The car is old but if it gets fixed it will run well; it has been dependable transportation. It needs tires, brakes, a new battery, and a water pump-incremental changes. Fundamental reforms are those that aim to transform, to alter permanently, those very same structures; the premise behind fundamental reforms is that basic structures are flawed at their core and need a…

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