Kirp then dissects the dramatic turnaround of the entire school system of Union City, New Jersey, and he shows how we can build great schools on the strengths of our democratic culture. Its answer did not come from technocrats from the outside, but from a local culture of "abrazos" or caring. Rather than firing our way to the top, Kirp shows that school improvement must come from trusting relationships. The secret sauce of Union City's success is "respeto," or respect.
Recently in education reform Category
May 10, 2013
May 03, 2013
The kids who come to school with less get less from school. Closing the achievement gap with high-stakes, test-centric teaching combined with low resources, few opportunities and a lack of support has failed. The best way out is to close the mushrooming opportunity gap, create more equitable opportunities and gauge how well states and districts are doing to create those opportunities. Achievement follows from opportunities to learn.
April 27, 2013
I have come to look at schools as a critical focal point in the fight for the soul of the nation. Our schools are foundational for our cultural life, and so much depends on our having a flourishing, humanizing public-education system. The battle over the schools is a microcosm of the battle that is going on everywhere else, but which most people feel too powerless to fight. Maintaining local control of our public schools system is essential for enabling even the possibility of such a fight.
April 24, 2013
Guest post by John Thompson. Back when "Dandy Don" Meredith was host of Monday Night Football, when the game was all over but the shouting, he would break into song. We need a 21st century way of saying the obvious. Test-driven school "reform" failed. To borrow a phrase regarding "closing time,"...
April 17, 2013
The Democratic Party has an internal battle ahead that goes to the very core of its spirit. Educators remain a core constituency, and public education reflects absolute core values. But the resolution by the California party convention is a signal that the road may no longer be smooth for leaders who embrace privatization and school closures. And the new focus by the GOP on an ever-less popular Common Core puts some Democrats in a spot where they do not have much wiggle room.
April 16, 2013
Rhee has not been alone, however, in foisting high-stakes testing on the entire nation. She has done so with the financing of billionaires and Duncan's D.O.Ed. So all three groups of accountability hawks should be held accountable. Rhee and her team in D.C. should all be subpoenaed. Corporate funders should demand an accounting of Rhee's StudentsFirst. Above all, they should reveal the what factual basis, if any, the organization has for its teacher-bashing soundbites.
April 15, 2013
Please understand that this is not a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans are reaching across the aisle in Illinois and other states to fight side by side against the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards in the same way that Democrats and Republicans worked together to create NCLB and RTTT. The corporate middle of both parties has driven these mandates, it is up to the non corporate elements of the Democratic and Republican parties to join together in the true spirit of "we the people" to reject a national curriculum that has been mandated without constitutional due process or the consent of "the governed.
March 09, 2013
Economists and politicians have long assumed that there are really only two sectors for governing things and "adding value" -- the state and the market. Markets are seen as the vehicle for economic progress while the state deals with governance and everything else. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that there is another sector - the commons - that is at least as important to our lives and well being. The commons consists of those many resources that we share - the atmosphere, water, public spaces, the Internet, scientific knowledge, cultural works, and much more - as well as the social systems and rule-sets that we use to manage them in fair, sustainable ways. It bears emphasizing that the commons is not just the resource itself, but the resource plus the community and its self-organized rule-sets, norms and enforcement of rules. I
March 05, 2013
Addressing the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin on Feb. 23, Superintendent John Kuhn nailed the essence of test-driven "reform." "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they've forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden." He later rebutted a key argument of market-driven "reform," reminding us that "They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 million kids waiting for this Legislature to keep our forefathers' promises."
March 03, 2013
Confirmation hearings for acting secretary of education Hanna Skandera in New Mexico took a decided turn towards the sensational yesterday, as testimony revealed details of the inner workings of what is looking more like a political machine advancing the combined interests of education "reformers" and the companies whose interests they are often found to serve. Skandera has been strongly supported by New Mexico's Republican governor Susana Martinez, but these revelations could throw a monkey wrench into the process.