Volume 74 No. 2 (2013)
Special Issue on Education ReformEducation reform has roiled public education in Illinois and nationwide in recent decades. Beginning with the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform in 1983 and accelerating with the No Child Left Behind Act’s passage in 2002, the landscape of public education has been reshaped by demands for fundamental reform. Critics of public education today argue that it is an obsolete system that is failing students and the nation. These critics blame teachers’ unions, educational bureaucracy, and an outmoded curriculum—among other culprits— for what they see as the sorry state of public education in the United States today. Yet there are powerful voices who disagree with these criticisms of public education. Skeptics argue that many critiques of today’s public education system are motivated not by genuine desire to improve education for students, but are masks for various get-rich-quick privatization schemes. Other skeptics emphasize that education reform is simply the latest cause du jour for wealthy philanthropists. Teachers also have a large stake in this debate. Many teachers feel that their professionalism, their care for children as well as test scores, and their collective bargaining rights vis-a-vis administrators are under assault from potential educational reforms. In short, the takes for today’s educational reform movement are high but there is little agreement about which route to pursue.
Introduction: Education Reform Past, Present, and Future