Thursday, February 9, 2012

Positions on School Reform V

Note: A review of published positions on school reform: a speech from Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan; Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System; Frederick Hess’s The Same Thing Over and Over; Charles Payne’s So Much Reform, So Little Change; Anthony Byrk ad others’ Organizing School for Improvement; and Valerie Kinloch’s Harlem On Our Minds. I will review each position in several consecutive blogs. RayS.

Quote: “Anthony Bryk is currently the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.”

Quote: “We strive to understand the internal workings and external conditions that distinguish improving elementary schools from those that fail to do so. In so doing, we aim to establish a comprehensive, empirically grounded theory of practice—in this instance, the practice of organizing schools for improvement—that teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, and civic leaders can draw on as they work to improve children’s learning in thousands of other schools all across this land.”

Quote: Improving student achievement uses quality professional development as a key instrument for change. Maximum leverage is achieved when these opportunities for teacher learning occur within a supportive professional work environment where teaching is grounded within a common, coherent, and aligned instructional system. Finally, undergirding all of this is a solid base of parent and community ties with the school and its professional staff.”

Quote: “We know that children are more engaged in schooling when they feel in control of their own learning, are actively participating in the learning process, are interested in the topic being studied, and are able to respond to the challenge before them.” From: Organizing School for Improvement.

Comment: The assumption that seems to underlie all of this criticism is that teachers are dummies who need to be taught how to do their jobs. Having worked as a supervisor in a K-12 school district, I can confidently say that this is not true. Build on the strengths of the teachers and what they are doing right and successfully. Stop labeling them as stars and failures. They are human beings doing professional work in conditions that work against them. Many, if not most, do that job well. Start there. But please don’t take away the sharing and togetherness  by using merit pay. RayS.

Title: “School Reform in the United States: Frames and Representations.” Books and Statements reviewed by Patrick Shannon. Reading Research Quarterly (January/February/ March 2012), 109-118.

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