The Road Less Traveled: Changing Schools from the Inside Out

Type Report
Title The Road Less Traveled: Changing Schools from the Inside Out
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
We’re all familiar with Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road
Not Taken,” often evoked as a triumphant homage to
individualism, urging us to strike out on our own and
follow unconventional paths wherever they may lead.
Yet as literary critics point out, such exhortations get
it wrong. Frost may have really been trying to convey a
more complex and wistful truth: namely, how we tend to
fool ourselves into thinking we’ve made good decisions—
or even decisions at all—when in truth, we might have
been victims of a coin toss of fate (Orr, 2015).
Roughly 30 years ago, American educators stood at a
crossroads, with a decision to make about the future
of education. With our ears ringing of warnings that
we were facing a “rising tide of mediocrity” (National
Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) and
recognizing unacceptable gaps in achievement between
disadvantaged students and others, we set off down a
path of reform that has, in the words of Frost, “made all
the difference”—or has it? One thing we know for sure
is that it altered how we have gone about running our

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