The Maze of Distrust

A new study from the Kettering Foundation discusses how local politics, distrust, miscommunication and unhealthy relationships caused by lingering suspicions and old grudges play a surprisingly powerful role in stalling efforts to improve public education.  In the introduction to the report, the author states that “despite sweeping reforms under Presidents Bush and Obama, billions of dollars invested by government and philanthropy, and new policies in districts nationwide, results remain disappointing.  Less than half of American students meet proficiency levels in reading and math.  Achievement gaps between richer and poorer students are wide—and still as troubling as ever.  With so much attention given to K-12 education, why has improvement been so hard to come by?  Why do reforms and innovations produce only pockets of change?  What are we missing?”  Maze of Mistrust explores how individual and community patterns of communication and behavior can either smooth the way for change or stymie it at every turn.  The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation whose primary research question is:  What does it take to make democracy work as it should?  Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation.

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