Alumni News

Recent doctoral graduate publishes dissertation as book

John Tharp, a 2007 graduate of the School’s doctoral program in Educational Leadership, recently published a book titled Breaking the Cycle of Failed School Reform: What Five Failed Reforms Tell Us. The book is based on the dissertation that he completed while at the School under the guidance of professors Fenwick English, Kathleen Brown and Neil Shipman. 

The book is a study of school reform in the United States.  In attempts to expose the ground zero of school reform in the United States, the following reform plans were analyzed: the Lancastrian Plan (1806); Age-graded Plan (1848); Gary Plan (1906); Trump Plan (1959); School Development Plan (1968); and Coalition of Essential Schools (1984).

A set of reform rubrics emerged from the study. The rubrics and their corresponding variables provide today’s educators a lens through which their schools can be assessed against the historic plans. The book closes with a set of recommendations for practitioners, policy developers and researchers about what needs to be included in school reform for it to be successful in the future.

“This is the first attempt to research and explain why all educational reforms in the post-World War II era have had minimal or no effects…The educational community is in debt to Dr. Tharp for a very much needed effort to alert both the education community and the general public to see educational reform in a new light,” says Seymour B. Sarason, Ph.D., professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Yale University.

Breaking the Cycle of Failed School Reform is Tharp’s first book in his career.