The Dean's Take - Advocacy Takes a Hit

Dean Gary Sasso
Dean Gary Sasso

As a research-intensive College of Education involved in the production and dissemination of knowledge and the effective training of teachers, we remain cognizant of the political and policy issues that affect the instruction that our children receive.

At the center of this discussion are issues related to the broad topic of educational reform. In its technical sense, educational reform is the change in the process by which society deliberately transmits and develops its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. In our current environment, school reform topics and efforts involve longer school days/years, class size issues, urban education issues, drop-out rates, the inclusion of students with disabilities, and the fate of our public school system in this country. Within this last topic are a number of issues that are resonating across the broad spectrum of interests: charter schools, school choice, vouchers, teacher accountability, alternative routes to teacher certification and standards within those programs, NCLB and the cheating scandal, teacher unions and collective bargaining, and the privatization of public schools.

Prominent voices among our elected officials and within the business community are insisting that our public schools are broken, and only through a dismantling/reorganization of the way we provide education to our children—including adoption of a private business model—can we hope to turn around what is considered to be the dismal performance of our schools. Others counter that it is not our schools that are broken, but rather our social fabric that is broken, and current economic conditions are primarily responsible for many of the problems families are having. These discussions are playing out within the context of a severe ongoing recession that has resulted in devastating cuts to our educational programs.

We in the College of Education have been working to address many of these issues through our research, advocacy and policy programs.

As part of that ongoing effort, we are dedicated to the most effective, efficient and acceptable programs for children of all ages and abilities. Please enjoy our latest edition of Theory to Practice.

Gary Sasso

Dean of the College of Education Lehigh University