May 2011 Archives

This piece offers a quick sketch of what the federal government is well positioned to do in education.

The inclusion of wraparound services is pragmatic approach to long unaddressed problems in the lives of children, problems that routinely interfere with learning. It's high time that we, as educators, recognize these problems and begin to get more active in working with others to solve them as they constitute such a threat to our achieving our educational aspirations. We must maintain our commitment to high expectations, regular assessments, and accountability. However, we must face up to those factors which are undermining our best instructional intentions.

No one, I dare to reckon, has accused Joel Klein of possessing a bureaucratic mindset. Let me be the first. I do so because it is one particular aspect of this mindset--a narrow focus on a designated function and set of institutional tools-- that seduces too many well-intentioned reforms to dismiss the "outside-in" consideration of non-school factors that Paul Reville and I argue in our commentary will be a important tools for social intervention in the future of education reform.

A popular phrase coined a few years back, "schools can't do it alone," suggests that we, as a society, place too high of a burden on our schools to both alleviate all the negative influences that play a role in student learning, such as those associated with poverty, and at the same time, prepare every student to access and graduate from college. For schools feeling pressure to "do it all," having community partners that offer learning opportunities, provide enrichment activities, and engage children and youth in positive developmental experiences seems appealing; however, school-community partnerships continue to be sporadic, and the ...

I believe that much of our current education policy effort is mistakenly adopting a short-term perspective that inadvertently rewards actions with an immediate impact and discounts actions - the same one that most good parents make -- that may germinate for years before blossoming in very important ways.

We need to reinvent a child development and education system that is equal to the bold aspirations for student success that we appropriately proclaim for the 21st century. All means all.

We need to learn together over time about what combinations of learning opportunities and supports are needed to help all children thrive, and to do this, we need a much more diverse who in the conversation than we currently have, and we need to have real conversations.

When companies like GE realize that they have significant resources and expertise internally to develop people, and that they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on remediation of their employees AND concurrently investing millions of dollars in the schools where their employees send their kids to try and grow future workers, they may decide to get into the charter school business. One day soon KIPP's biggest "competitor" might be "GE Schools."

No one has told these students that they cannot control their own learning. No one has "schooled" the adult tutors, who are largely recruited from the rural communities they serve, that they are "unqualified" to teach or to serve as leaders of learning in their communities. The students and tutors share an understanding that, if there are things that they need to know in order to teach others, they will learn them through the teaching of others. The students and adults form a powerful social movement, with a common identity around access to learning.

I wonder, finally, what would happen if we simply opened the doors and let the students go; if we let them walk out of the dim light of the overhead projector into the sunlight; if we let them decide how, or whether, to engage this monolith? Would it be so terrible? Could it be worse than what they are currently experiencing?

By formally defining and assigning the role of watching out for the whole student, and providing this role with the right time and tools, teaching teams can make sure that no student falls through the cracks no matter how the work of instruction is divided.

This piece argues that asking lone teachers to create highly differentiated instruction requires almost superhuman skill, and suggests that a mix of technology and differentiated teacher roles can better achieve the task of high quality instruction for all students.

By Olivia Meeks Over the last several weeks, this blog has featured dozens of insightful pieces which gaze into the future of education, but today we're going to take a look in the rearview mirror. Rick, Greg, and I have sketched out a vision of education's future in which schools shift from the do-everything teacher model to a model which leverages staff specialization and new technologies. For those who haven't had a chance to read the Ed Week piece yet (no time like the present!), a major component of this more tech-centered, specialized system is the adoption of differentiated staffing. ...

By Frederick M. Hess Any meaningful effort to redefine the teaching job, as Greg, Olivia, and I suggest in this week's Ed Week piece, will inevitably raise questions of how to redefine compensation. As cash-strapped states and school systems wrestle with tight budgets, it's vital to recognize that one-size-fits-all pay is insensitive to questions of productivity. Although the term productivity is regarded as an irritant in most education conversations, it refers to nothing more than how much good a given employee can do. If one teacher is regarded by colleagues as a far more valued mentor than another, or if ...

This post argues we should stop looking for more "superhero" teachers and instead try to differentiate roles in a way that takes advantage of differences in teachers talents and capabilities.

It seems to me that a key challenge for policy makers in any arena is to implement policies that help make the worst cases better while simultaneously avoiding making the best cases worse.

One technology that I believe offers an intriguing possibility for teachers to create more authentic learning opportunities for students is the relatively new micro-publishing industry.

The inquiry project involved the creation of a three-tiered intervention plan to support all students but provides more focused support and parent communication for students who do not meet attendance/performance expectations.

We must recognize that educators tend to be two peoples divided by the same language. The best example is the word, "Standards." It sounded too much like "standardized." So, a movement to teach fewer concepts for mastery morphed into a rush to cover standardized test questions.

This post invites readers to contribute experiences from the field to the discussion about the futures of school reform.


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