It was almost fifteen years ago now that I was sharing my Harvard dissertation, on the dynamics of school reform in fifty-seven urban districts, with a few potential publishers.
The interesting part was the response from the six education professors who reviewed the manuscript for TCP and HUP. Unanimously, they declared the manuscript to be uninteresting, unimportant, mean-spirited, and undeserving of publication. They thought my characterization of popular reforms, like block-scheduling and site-based management, was uncharitable. They thought my interpretation of the institutional politics was callous, unduly harsh, and devoid of any new insights.
Well... that certainly explains a lot, doesn't it?At the National Press Club event where the piece was launched, my friend David Imig, the then-president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, declared that my arguments qualified not even as "old wine in new bottles" but just "old wine in old bottles." He suggested that the University of Virginia (my then-employer) really ought to consider whether, given my skepticism about teacher education, I deserved to be employed at its School of Education.Two years later, when I departed UVA for AEI, many of my ed school colleagues enthusiastically ushered me to the door, with my program chair taking care to tell me that he regarded my work as trivial and insignificant.
I'll show you guys... I'll show you all!