Guest blogger Anne L. Bryant is the executive director of the National School Boards Association.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) held its 72nd Annual Conference in Boston, April 21-23, and more than 5,000 school board members and superintendents enjoyed inspiring remarks by CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien, Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan, and President of Harlem Children’s Zone Geoffrey Canada. We also held more than 200 sessions and workshops on topics such as the common core standards, new trends in educational technology, community engagement, and strategies to turn around low-performing schools.
But perhaps the biggest star was our 2011-12 president, Mary Broderick, of East Lyme, Conn. In her term as president, Broderick has passionately articulated the need to allow teachers and students the freedom to think, teach, and learn. She’s fascinated by motivation research and for years has studied the impact of federal and state policies, particularly the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), on classrooms.
She began writing a letter to President Barack Obama during her travels as NSBA president, soliciting comments and advice from her colleagues along the way. (Broderick not only saw the need for change as a veteran school board member, she also spends a great deal of time in schools and working with communities in her day jobs as an educational consultant with the
From where I sit, a member of the local school board and head of our board’s curriculum committee, I appreciate what No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have meant for our district: forcing accountability on a school district that pushes inexorably against it. And I see the Common Core as promising us a curriculum where none has ever existed.
The Common Core promises us a curriculum where none has ever existed.
Sure, we have plenty to worry about when it comes to the role of the federal government in our lives. The current cover story in the Economist is about an “Over-regulated America,” smothered by a wave of “red tape” that may crush the life out of America’s economy. It sure seems to have already crushed much of the life out of America’s public education system.
Coming at the question from a different direction, David Brooks recently suggested that the United States is just as freighted by central government as the Europe is; we just do it differently—and not so well. Our economic briar patch, says Brooks, is in the tax code.
There should be a lesson here for our education policy-wonks and -makers: instead of getting hung up on which government agency is making the rules, let’s dig a little deeper into the question of red tape, at all levels, and find out exactly which ties are binding so firmly to mediocrity and entropy. Chris Cerf in New Jersey has a team going through every Garden State education rule and regulation with an eye of
I came to the world of public education late in my career, but through a golden portal, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, a book of such broad intellectual depth and revolutionary import that it was a national bestseller in 1987. Amazingly, more than twenty years later, very few educators have read it (see here). That’s too bad. If they had, they would not make statements like the one Josh Thomases, deputy chief academic officer for New York City’s Education Department, gave to the New York Times just the other day:
The core problem of literacy in middle school is you’re transitioning from learning to read, to reading to learn.
Wrong. The problem of literacy is that the transition from decoding skills to comprehension should happen long before middle school.
The problem of literacy is that the transition from decoding skills to comprehension should happen long before middle school.
Thomases means well. And he’s trying to clean up the anti-academic middle school mess that has persisted for far too long (see my Ed Next story). But like far too many educators (including the authors of No Child Left Behind, who wrongly set reading up as a skill divorced from content), he misunderstands the nature of reading. As Hirsch writes in his second, and arguably more important, book about education, The Schools We Need: And Why We Don’t Have Them,
While the process of decoding from letters to language is the foundation of reading, it isn’t the essence of reading, which
The more I read RiShawn Biddle ? he of Dropout Nation -- the more I like him (even though I don't know anything about him). ?He wrote a wonderful short essay last week on Bruce Baker of Rutgers, whom he called the ?poor man's Diane Ravitch? (and who, he says, "has devoted so much of his career attempting to prove that spending more money on education? leads to better results.?) ?But today he's taking on a favorite subject of mine, the ?the myth of differences between urban and rural schools.?
Having grown up in rural America (Oregon), lived and worked in urban America (Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.) for several decades, and having now settled down in upstate ?high needs rural? New York (this, according to the official New York State Education Department's designation), I have a strong opinion on the subject of rural and urban educational needs.? And that opinion is, Right on RiShawn!
[T]he idea that the nation's education crisis is only limited to the nation's big cities is false, as are arguments that schools serving suburban students are somehow immune from the same problems of abysmal curricula, laggard instruction and cultures of mediocrity in which only some kids are considered capable of learning. The fact that one out of every four fourth-graders in a suburban school ? and that young male fourth-graders (including half of all those on free- or-reduced lunch plans and one-fifth of
- Stretching the School Dollar
- Common Core Watch
- Ohio Gadfly Daily
- Board's Eye View
- Choice Words
About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
June 13, 2013
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