Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change Without Reform in American Education
By Larry Cuban

Harvard Education Press, 2013, $29.95; 243 pages.

Reviewed by Mark Bauerlein

One with the abiding highlights of education reform in the country, such as continuing saga of Common Core, can be an unfortunate reality Larry Cuban addresses as part of his latest book (his sixth since 2009). It is the vast, multilayered distance from just one end of the reform effort to another. At first, look for governors and mayors, foundations and advocacy groups that propose modifications to funding, governance, and curriculum. Afterwards lies what actually transpires in classrooms: those items students study, the assignments they complete, where they sit plus the teacher stands, as well as other factors define on-the-ground instruction. Amongst, an elaborate and unreliable process of policy formulation, adoption, and implementation unfolds. A notion arises, say, digital learning, that draws researchers and educators, then thrills a politician in addition to a donor, which in turn yields a single:1 laptop program, which needs the purchase of hardware, software, and curricular materials, which requires training for teachers as well as a support team of tech experts…prior to crucial engagement of teacher, student, and laptop is situated class.

Cuban monitored one such initiative within a Sf highschool during 1998