Arthur Levine, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Several years ago, I was part of a group that a philanthropist had assembled to review his foundation’s education agenda. In the course of a two-day meeting, the conversation turned negative only once, when education schools were discussed.
The philanthropist said he had given up on education schools, preferring to work with business schools or organizations outside of colleges and universities. A former governor who was known to be a thoughtful education-policy leader chimed in, calling the flagship education school in his state largely irrelevant. A major school-system superintendent reported having told the two education schools in his area that if they were unable to turn one of his high schools around, they should go out of business. Dismissively he said that only one of the education schools was even trying. A union leader nodded in agreement, something the superintendent had rarely experienced.
This is an age of finger-pointing. As profound demographic, economic, global, and technological changes rack the country, all of our social institutions — created to serve a disappearing world — perform less well than they once did. As they try to adjust to a society in motion, they appear to be broken and unable to fix themselves. Thus we say the government is broken. The American family is broken. So it is with the education school.
The response by the public is to withdraw. As it does, we increasingly see the institution in distorted caricature, and we develop unrealistic expectations for what it should be able to accomplish. We blame the institution for all of the problems in its field and deem its inability to change willful.