In recent months, I’ve found myself cast as the designated skeptic in print and on panels dealing with topics from civic education to personalized learning to social and emotional learning. I’ve become a congenital contrarian, and a bit of a broken record, forever repeating, “Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that,” in response to advocates arguing for various reform strategies and tactics.

Don’t mistake me. Like most folks, I have preferred flavors of schooling and favorite reform levers that I’ll argue for, sometimes strenuously. But the list of practices and strategies that I’d make mandatory, were I czar, is extremely limited. (In fact, I can’t think of any beyond scientifically-sound reading instruction including a content-rich core curriculum.) Part of that reluctance is the

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