Kenzo Shibata
Editor, Chicago Union Teacher
The phrase “education reform” has been co-opted to mean a narrow party program advocated by the reform establishment (mainly billionaires and their designees) that includes a barrage of testing, charter schools, and taking experienced educators out of the classroom.

None of these measures have a track record of success, but the actual facts get obscured by Hollywood films and connected charter groups. It’s hard to get into the conversation when the corporate side of education reform uses the term as a bludgeon against anyone who questions its agenda — even when the concerns are supported by research.

If we’re all in this together, why can’t we debate what reform should look like, roll up our sleeves and fix our schools — together? There’s a lot of work to be done and we need all hands on deck. This isn’t possible unless we can actually have free and open discussion about what schools need. That means that we need to look at all of the challenges involved and tackle them directly. We even need to look at the challenge of poverty, since that seems to be the largest impediment to educational achievement. That’s not to say it’s a brick wall to success, it’s just a crucial factor we must address.


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