ERIC Number: ED371452
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Conceptual Limitations of Systemic Educational Reform.
Steffy, Betty E.; English, Fenwick W.
The current "third-wave" educational reformers are committed to deeper and more far-reaching school improvement efforts that have been conceived almost totally in structuralist terms. The word "restructuring" often appears in such reforms to signal reformers' intent to institute "systemic" reform. The latter term connotes reformers' determination to engage in "system" reform, as opposed to piecemeal (first- and second-wave) change and embraces the concept of "wholes" or "structures" promoted by structuralism. Using Kentucky and Chicago school reform efforts as examples, this paper argues that reform cast as structuralism has marginalized humans (administrators) as primary action agents and/or change recipients and blinded reformers to the critical role of powerful persons who enable reforms to be politically successful. The structuralist concept of incommensurability is one culprit. Also, "structural change" or "restructuring" rests on assumptions that deny it an empirical base for evaluative purposes. Student achievement outcomes cannot be considered appropriate measures to establish a (currently nonexistent) theory of reform. Shorn of an empirical theory to test, it is impossible to learn from failures. (Includes 45 references.) (MLH)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky