The Pointlessness of Education Reform

Dr. Dad Bod
3 min readMar 6, 2024

In Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” the band includes the lyrics “We’re just two lost souls/ Swimming in a fish bowl/ year after year/ Running over the same old ground/ What have we found?/ The same old fears”.

Unfortunately, the lines are a perfect metaphor for the absolute stalemate that results when anyone tries to make a significant change in American Public Education.

Back Where We Started

I have been a high school English teacher for 31 years now, and for every one of them there has been talk of how badly we need change in American Schools. Just yesterday, I joined a Professional Development meeting about this new program called Lighthouse and it truly sounded great. It is an effort to revitalize American Public Education in a way that really embraces and leans upon progress in technology while simultaneously encouraging creativity.

And, that is the problem exactly,

I’m Goin’ Nowhere, Somebody Help Me!

No matter how much people talk about the need for change, no matter how fervent educators are in pushing for more freedom, the fact remains that the very framework of education needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

Talking about creativity and collaboration and technology and blah blah blah means NOTHING because at the end of the day kids are STILL judged by standardized tests. You can’t be very creative on a scantron. Communities get bumps in property value if those stupid scores are high AND if a whole bunch of kids take AP classes whether they are interested in the classes or not and whether they are academically qualified to take them or not. Therefore, at the end of the day, teachers still need to teach to tests, and though there are far better ways to asses students’ abilities, this way works for politicians so there really is no incentive to change.

In fact NOT changing is incentivized for high performing areas whose property values remain high based at least in part by the quality of the public education it offers its residents.

So far all of the great talk about myriad possible changes that COULD be made, they really CAN’T be made until the nature of assessments change.

So for now, teachers remain in lockstep- the trend, despite all the talk of creativity is for everyone to teach the same lessons so parents can’t complain. Teachers are told to have a similar number of assignments, so parents can’t complain. Students are seldom penalized for skipping classes, but teachers are chastized for not taking attendance. Students get an automatic extra two weeks to turn in major assignments, while teachers are forced into deadlines that get severely complicated because we are forced to accept and grade past due work while new work comes in.

For 31 years I have watched ambitious young people come into the profession with great ideas and energy only to have both squashed by the necessity to maintain the status quo and not rock any boats .

American education has never ever changed at the root level, and as a consequence, it has never really changed at all.



Dr. Dad Bod

I am a husband, father, teacher, and soccer coach, and aspiring writer residing in Northern Virginia. More than anything, I love having fun and pushing myself!