For this week’s BTCIK, I wanted to celebrate the close of another school year by shining light on a true school leader—someone who’s taught, supported teachers, supported schools, and run schools.
So we’re lucky enough to have as a guest Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Like so many involved in this work, she is a passionate advocate for the interests of kids in need. But she’s been able to turn that commitment into a number of groundbreaking accomplishments—growing TFA, launching TNTP, crafting and implementing IMPACT, and more.
There’s no doubt that were she to decide to hang up her ed-reform cleats now and apply her talents elsewhere—God forbid!—she’d be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
But there are quite a few of those in our business. What sets Kaya apart, at least in my book, are rare personal qualities that remain unseen unless you have the chance to spend some time in her company.
She’s a sophisticated thinker; you don’t achieve the professional successes she has through gumption alone. She’s courageous; though everyone knows her for her approachable style, warm disposition, and infectious smile, Kaya’s accomplishments are partly attributable to her titanium backbone.
Most importantly, though—and I wish I had
Here’s the second half of my compilation of recent publications you might want to read.
- Those of you who read Robin Lake’s awesome BTCIK interview last week know that the Center for Reinventing Public Education is out with a new publication. Since 2005, CRPE has produced an annual Hopes, Fears, and Realities report on charter schools, a collection of similarly themed papers by a number of the field’s leaders. This year’s edition focuses on innovation. All four chapters are absolutely worthwhile; I’m especially partial to Ethan Gray’s piece on charter incubation and Jeffrey Henig’s contemplation of charters expanding to suburban and affluent areas. If you like charters, follow urban education reform, or simply really like CRPE (like me), check it out.
- If you’re interested in the educator-evaluation debate, you ought to take a look at Democrats for Education Reform’s recent report, Culture of Countenance. A number of groups have begun analyzing the consequences of the nation’s rapid overhaul of laws and regulations related to evaluations. DFER’s contribution is giving attention to the most overlooked aspect—observations. An underreported finding of the MET study is that observations may be the wobbliest leg of the new stool. This report builds on that, echoing one of the most important arguments in The Widget Effect—that the culture surrounding evaluations undermines the entire system, observations in particular.
Poverty is a lot like global warming.
It's been a real joy to join you in dialogue these past six weeks. I very much appreciate the opportunity and hope we can continue the discussion in other forums in the months ahead. (Well, maybe after a summer break!)
Let me use my last correspondence to introduce one new idea and summarize some of the others we've explored—to determine just how far we've come in bridging our differences.
The new idea is this: Poverty is a lot like global warming.
As a Whole Foods Republican, I acknowledge that global warming is real, that it's a major threat, and that it's caused (at least in part) by human activity. Here the science is overwhelming.
But unlike most progressives, I'm not yet convinced that we know how to stop it. Will curtailing our carbon output halt climate change? Or is it too late at this point? Here the science is inconclusive.
Yet many environmentalists argue that we should take drastic actions to limit carbon production anyway, even though such actions are likely to wreck the economy, which would drive millions (if not billions) of people into poverty. That's not a price I'm willing to pay for policies that may prove to be nothing more than symbolic or a salve for
Lyndsey Layton’s wonderful—and wonderfully revealing—front-page Washington Post article is today’s must read (“Duncan’s mission: Sell preschool plan to GOP”). But if you’re like me, it will leave you scratching your head—if not pulling out your hair.
This is the Administration's plan to get an enormous new social entitlement through Congress?
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
This is the Administration’s plan to get an enormous new social entitlement through Congress? Stage events with GOP governors and urge them to pressure Congressional Republicans into passing a tobacco tax? They can’t possibly be that naïve, can they?
In classic Team Obama style, Duncan explains resistance to his boss’s plan as Congressional dysfunction. Yet Republican members of Congress are “functioning” just at they’re supposed to. They promised voters that they would rein in spending, limit the size of government, and keep taxes low. Duncan admits that he wants “a massive influx of resources” in order to “dramatically expand access.” I’m sorry, but that’s not what Republicans were elected to support.
What’s needed isn’t a fancy campaign, complete with a “war room” and “outside-in” strategy, but a real negotiation.* Republicans might support high-quality preschool for poor kids, but not if it means a whopping new tax. What are Democrats willing to give in return?
I see opportunities
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
June 13, 2013
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