John Thompson Reviews John Merrow’s “Addicted to Reform,” and Loves It!

Diane Ravitch's blog

John Thompson, historian and teacher in Oklahoma, Reviews John Merrow’s ADDICTED TO REFORM:

In “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education”, John Merrow lets it all out. Merrow, the winner of the George Polk Award and two George Foster Peabody Awards, leads us down “Memory Lane,” republishing his astonishing journalism that predates “A Nation at Risk,” and its warning against “a rising tide of mediocrity.” He also recalls successful innovators such as James Comer, E.D. Hirsch, Deborah Meier, and Henry Levin.
ADDICTED TO REFORM by John Merrow | Kirkus Reviews
But Merrow shows how high stakes testing dramatically increased our output of mediocre and even worse lessons for our kids. He tells us how the bubble-in reform “mania” got to a point where a principal told his teachers to “motor down,” to stop teaching 11th grade material to high-performing freshmen in order to prepare for the 9th…

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3 thoughts on “John Thompson Reviews John Merrow’s “Addicted to Reform,” and Loves It!

  1. As usual both Johns, Merrow and Thompson are right on target. The time has come to put our words into actions. Back in the 70’s we put our jobs at risk to go on strike for better wages and working conditions. Now is the time to take risks and infiltrate the system through cross curriculum projects that bring real, hands on education back to students. Those in the trenches must subvert the system to stop the humiliation of students by the “who’s first and who’s last” mentality. It is time to take students from “where they are” to their future.

    It is not only unethical to follow the guide of the artificial reformers, it is immoral. The testing police can’t be everywhere. Ignore the big test and teach from your heart, like you were prepared to do.

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  2. John,

    If you would like a copy of my new book “Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractice in American Public Education” please email me your address at and I’ll send you a copy. It’s not a long book as I have attempted to pack a lot in a short space. In it I discuss the purpose of American public education and of government in general, issues of truth in discourse, justice and ethics in teaching practices, the abuse and misuse of the terms standards and measurement which serve to provide an unwarranted pseudo-scientific validity/sheen to the standards and testing regime, the inherent errors involved in that regime as outlined by Noel Wilson and how the inherent discrimination in that regime should be adjudicated to be unconstitutional state discrimination no different than discrimination via race, gender, disability, etc. . . .

    State sponsored discrimination via mental abilities/capabilities in the standards and testing regime is truly THE civil rights issue of our time.

    Take care,


  3. In Florida, the League of Women Voters has begun this process you describe here in Gainesville. We formed a coalition of community groups to create a common message. We started with getting proclamations supporting public schools in every city in the district. We showed the film Passion to Teach and held a forum with the author of the book: From Heroes to Hacks: The Disturbing Rise of Bad Teachers on Television. We held community forums and events to educate the public about the state of our schools.

    The coalition joined the campaigns for ballot measures to help local schools and to create an independent children’s council to serve kids age 0-18 to improve preschool and afterschool programs. We launched a digital media campaign to oppose for-profit charter chains in our community and won. We picked some targets to use as exemplars for what could be instead.

    One target was to promote our new community school by forming an alliance with the school, the Children’s Services Trust, and the City Commission’s Youth Summit initiatives. We used the same alliance to join forces with a school board member’s initiative for a pilot program, for student project based learning. We will raise money to include the community school in this pilot program. The community school will become a prototype for what a public schools/community alliance can do together: wrap around services, parent programs, after school programs, and community/school student projects.

    We haven’t changed the world, or even started something others are not doing. We are trying, however, to coordinate activities and send a common message by helping people see a better way ahead. The Florida League will use this model for action to extend what we are doing in Gainesville to other areas of the State. Wish us well.


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