Of course, there are implementation problems. What matters in education is what actually happens in 100,000 schools educating 50 million kids. That’s all implementation, and that means it matters a lot that some reforms are much more likely to suffer bumps, distortions, and problems than are others. The more complex they are, the further away they are from schools and families, the more dependent on intensive retraining–the more likely big ideas will suffer from “implementation problems.” Yet, I rarely find would-be reformers very interested in any of this, or what it portends. I find them much more intent on driving change from wherever they happen to be, using whatever levers they happen to control.
Reformers would do well to spend less time insisting “we’ve got this,” or that things will be okay if we embrace “good policy” or “smart implementation,” and more asking how to craft measures that are less susceptible to implementation problems. They’d do even better to ask whether some well-meaning ideas are best not pursued, at least in certain ways or at certain times, because the problems are likely to be so severe.
Read the whole post here.