I think it depends upon whether we use common sense about reforms. I think there is almost no evidence of common sense in the way these 'reforms' have been perpetrated on the American public. In what other sphere of life have we allowed a few individuals with admittedly well-meaning and optimistic plans for the future proceed without public approval, comment, and consultation with the very people that reform will supposedly help? The scale of hubris is unbelievable when Gates makes comments like:
"Well, there's a lot of issues about governance, whether it's school boards or unions where you want to allow for experimentation in terms of pay procedures, management procedures to really prove out new things. As those things start working on behalf of the students, then I believe that the majority of teachers and voters will be open-minded to these new approaches. And so, we have to take it a step at a time. They have to give us the opportunity for this experimentation." [ Source: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0812/03/sitroom.01.html ]
Really? Why do we have to turn our educational future over to Bill Gates? Here's where the plan proved to be really well-devised:
"The cities where our foundation has put the most money in, is where there's a single person responsible - in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, the mayor has responsibility for the school system, and so instead of having a committee of people, you have that one person. And that's where we've seen the willingness to take on some of the older practices and try new things, and we've seen very good results in all three of those cities, so there are some lessons that have already been learned. We need to make more investments, and I do think the teachers will come along, because after all they're there because they believe in helping the students as well." [Same source].
So Gates subverted the will of citizens to test his educational ideas - because citizens "have to give...opportunity for this experimentation," and he did so by targeting cities where there wasn't strong local, citizen-led control of public schools. And the rest is history, with profit-happy charter and testing companies preying on the systems that were supposed to enlighten education.
Never mind the fact that this plan was a thought experiment. There were no studies and no discussion before these changes were slipped into law and practice. No one thought to consult independent educational experts about this plan, or if they did, it was silenced. It is not convenient to hear dissenting opinions when you are a successful businessman with a crusade. In this case, success seems to have bred contempt for the very educators and students these people were trying to help. Why bother asking the most qualified for analysis when you're a billionaire - after all, you got rich by being smarter than everyone else, and you are trying to help, aren't you?
So what if you're not helping? What if the reforms you proposed are hastening the demise of educational opportunities? What if you are having the precise opposite effect of that you intended? Mr. Gates - can you open your eyes and see what's going on?
EduWeek article by Anthony Cody. A must read for information about Common Core State Standards.
The same situation is playing out in Texas. Insert Pearson for Gates or the Walton foundation.