I was raised Catholic. There are some indelible memories of attending mass every Sunday and “church school” every Wednesday. In case you did not know this about me, I am old enough to remember when the mass was celebrated in Latin. Upon reflection, I have to wonder what the purpose of sitting through 40 minutes of a ceremony that was occurring in a language unknown to me. Evidently I was not the only one wondering the same thing. Sometime in the mid 1960’s the Pope authorized the clergy to say mass in the “vernacular of the celebrants.”
In the Catholic Church it is clear who makes such decisions. Decisions like this are made at the top. Everyone in the church is clear about who is at the top of church. If the Pope says how something is supposed to be, that is how it will be. The hierarchy is clear. Once the decision was made to allow mass to be celebrated in a language other than Latin, the response was nearly immediate and universal.
What about in education? Although there are a few titular heads of education in the field such as Secretary of Education at the federal level, the State Superintendent of Education at the state level, the County Superintendents of Education, and the Superintendents of the LEAs. But, unlike the head of the Catholic Church, not one those listed above has been blessed with infallibility.
When one of the persons in the positions listed above makes a decision about a particular direction of the deployment of resources it is not because of a revelation from the Almighty. The source of the inspiration might not be from above, and there is not a single person who puts forth proclamations for districts and schools, but the results seem to be very similar to a papal decree.
Eerily similar initiatives are proposed and advanced in districts and schools nearly simultaneously with neighboring districts and with districts not located in close proximity. Not infrequently the initiatives and programs are also abandoned in a nearly simultaneous manner.
How do so many complex and seemingly unworkable ideas become the accepted dogma of an entire educational system? There is no equivalent to a pope in education so my question remains regarding many of these new initiatives, “Who said this was a good idea?”