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
Guest blogger Jay P. Greene is the 21st Century Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University.
Being against greater national control over education policy is not the same as being for local school districts. I appreciate Peter Meyer giving me the opportunity in this space to explain what I am for when it comes to school governance.
Fundamentally, I am for parental control over the education of their children, so I guess that I am for as little governance over education as we can manage. In my ideal world, which I’ve tried to explain and justify at greater length in this book chapter, parents would be given as much money as is minimally necessary to fulfill their obligation to educate their children and would choose the location, manner, and content of that education. Since education is just a subset of all of the activities in which parents engage to raise their children to be productive adults, we should defer to parents as much in how they educate their children as how they raise those children more generally. As long as parents do not neglect or abuse their children, the government should have as little role in education as is possible.
But we don’t live in my ideal world and I have no expectation that we will.
Guest blogger David Harris is the founder and chief executive officer of The Mind Trust, a nonprofit that is driving innovative K-12 education reform in Indianapolis. Under his leadership, The Mind Trust recruits proven programs to Indianapolis, incubates life-changing schools and initiatives, and develops bold plans for systemic change. Since its launch in 2006, The Mind Trust has impacted 37,500 students through its work and raised twenty-seven million dollars.
The Mind Trust's goal is to ensure every child in Indianapolis has the opportunity to receive an excellent education. We believe that dramatically increasing the number of high-quality schools in our city is critical to this mission.
The need for more high-quality public schools in Indianapolis is sizable. Less than half of students in the city’s largest district, Indianapolis Public Schools, meet basic state standards on both math and English portions of Indiana’s standardized test. Less than two-thirds graduate on time.
The need for more high-quality public schools in Indianapolis is sizable.
The charter schools authorized by the Indianapolis mayor’s office have made significant strides at boosting student outcomes. On average last year, those charter schools exceeded the Indianapolis Public Schools pass rates in both math and English on the state’s standardized test by 13 percentage points.
But the charter-school supply is not adequate to meet the demand for the schools. Nearly 1,000 students are left on waiting lists for charter schools in Indianapolis
A teacher friend of mine showed me the new issue of the American Educator, the American Federation of Teachers publication that bills itself as “a quarterly journal of education research and ideas.” He wanted me to read the cover story, called “Lead the Way: the Case for Fully Guided Instruction.” The research, by Richard Clark, Paul Kirschner, and John Sweller, has been around for a while, but that’s the astounding thing: not only has their research been around, but they argue, quite persuasively, that “[d]ecades of research clearly demonstrate that for novices (comprising virtually all students), direct, explicit instruction is more effective and more efficient than partial guidance.”
As a school board member I confess to deep and continuous agita over the the system’s inability to do the right thing.
I will not pretend to be an expert on teaching, but as a school board member I confess to deep and continuous agita over the system’s inability to do the right thing; rather, its amazing ability to deny reality, which is the prime directive for institutional entropy. (It is not just the reality of good research that is ignored, it’s the reality of crumbling schools and generations of untaught children.) I had a veteran teacher pull me aside one day and almost shout, “They keep giving new names to the same tired and unworkable ideas. Why don’t they just let me teach!”
Since reading E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy, celebrating its 25th year in
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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.
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