School Reform Framework

Even within the systemic and institutional aspects of school reform, a framework of sub-issues emerges.  While the education debate has often focused on standards and accountability, choice versus traditional schools, or teachers and unions, these sub-issues tell the underlying story.  If we are to address educational reforms in a fully comprehensive way, we need to recognize, understand, and evaluate these underlying sub-issues and address them directly.  Only then can we move forward to fully turn around our American educational system.


  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)


  • The effect of choice
  • Effective “laboratories” of success — models for traditional public schools to emulate, where appropriate
  • The importance of leadership, good charter school board management, and a well-designed charter


  • New flexibility under ESSA
  • Designing and implementing evidence-based solutions


  • Political posturing, sufficient operational resources, and budgeting
  • State differences, regional differences, and geographical inequalities
  • Funneling more funding into the classrooms


  • Structure and organization of schools and physical classroom spaces
  • Funding for capital improvements


  • Preparation and professional development
  • Time management, vision, and need for high-level systemic analysis that is concurrent with daily, urgent management of people, place, and things
  • Superintendent and principal turnover


  • Quality of teachers in challenging geographical areas (inner cities and rural communities), as well as fields like special education or math and science
  • Preparation from teacher colleges, alternative teacher preparation programs, and the overwhelming need for professional development in fundamental skills
  • State licensing, role of unions, recruitment, pay, pensions, and other issues regarding teachers’ professionalism
  • Working conditions, teacher absenteeism, and teacher turnover


  • Substantive curriculum changes, especially in math and language arts
  • Alignment with the states’ standards and/or common core skills
  • Fostering creativity and reducing the sense of “teaching to the test” and “drill and kill”
  • 21st century skills
  • Innovative approaches to learning, i.e. project-based learning, student-centered learning, and personalized learning
  • The use of technology to create a blended learning experience


  • Student absenteeism
  • Appropriate placement and supports for students with disabilities, English language learners, or struggling students
  • Classroom management
  • Addressing underlying causes and individual student behavioral challenges to support individual students and ensure that other students are not adversely affected
  • Safety, student discipline, and alternatives to suspension or expulsion (school to prison pipeline)


  • Designing and implementing appropriate state student assessments
  • Using the information and data gathered from the assessments in effective ways to improve student learning and achievement
  • Longitudinal studies and growth model

These sub-issues often take precedence in school reform debates.  As noted in our unique approach to comprehensive education reform, however, they are only a part of the bigger whole, which must include Student Supports, Family Engagement, and Community Building.