What is the real answer to education reform? I've been an educator since 1993 and have witnessed more attempts at reform than I can count on both hands and feet.
First it was, "The kids aren't learning because they aren't reading and they aren't reading because we focus too much on phonics." Then it was, "The kids aren't learning because they aren't reading and they aren't reading because we threw out the phonics."
Then we started to take a balanced approach to instruction and some were satisfied and some weren't. So it became, "We need more than a balanced approach to reading instruction, we must have SBRI (scientifically-based reading instruction)." Soon every product and program out there was boasting it was "researched-based." Most schools couldn't buy products or support programs that weren't. We soon found out some of that "research" was done on very small populations of children and for very short periods of time, when certain results weren't being replicated in the mainstream.
Now it seems as if reform is moving further away from materials and more toward teachers and administrators. Obama's Race To the Top initiative lays out some pretty "bold" reforms, in terms of school staffing, in order to qualify for the grant.
So is this the answer? If we get rid of principals and teachers in low-performing schools and replace them with more "qualified" individuals, will this turn public education around?