A huge part of my educational worldview is “sector agnosticism,” my disinterest in who runs schools as long as those schools are high performing. My new book is built around this philosophy; it argues for a new urban school system that assesses each school based on its performance and then applies strategies to schools based on their performance not on their operators.
Private schools should be part of the urban school system of the future.
Unlike so many others studying urban education, I believe that private schools should be part of this urban school system of the future. Per my axiom above, I don’t much care if an urban school is run by a private or religious organization if it gets great results for underserved kids and adheres to basic democratic, pluralistic principles.
But in the past when the state attempts to fold private schools into the mix via scholarship or tax-credit programs, public accountability is always the major stumbling block. Will participating private schools test students and report results? Will they test just the scholarship kids or all of their students? What test will they use? Will low-performance disqualify a private school from participation?
It has appeared for years that public debate and public policy would be unable to solve this problem. But we may have had a breakthrough.
As Ed Week’s Eric Robelen reports in this fascinating article, more and more private schools are choosing
Though this may fall into the category of self-dealing or nepotism, I have to heap some praise on my TBFI colleague Kathleen Porter-Magee. I’ve know Kathleen for going on a decade in various capacities, and I’ve always thought her to be a super-smart, funny, and independent-minded participant in all things education reform.
As lots of ed reformers fall victim to group-think, Kathleen’s independence has become especially valuable.
But her virtues have become clearer and clearer and more and more valuable over the last couple of years as she’s emerged as a responsible national leader on standards, curriculum, and assessments, especially with regard to Common Core.
As lots of ed reformers fall victim to group-think—this maddening view that we can reach our goals by just pursuing a handful of consensus reforms and showing political “backbone”—Kathleen’s independence (bordering on healthy contrariness) has become especially valuable.
But what’s even more important is that her views are grounded in some pretty remarkable real-world experience. She’s been a teacher; worked in curriculum, assessments, and PD for a high-performing CMO; has worked a great deal on standards and accountability; and much more.
While I was working in New Jersey, I had fewer regular opportunities to talk to Kathleen, but her name was often ringing in my ears, as a growing number of
It’s well established that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—adopted in principle by forty-six states—won’t get any real traction unless they’re comprehensively and faithfully implemented at the state and local levels. (They also have implications for federal policy and programs, of course.)
What we've heard about the Common Core's impact is just the tip of the iceberg .
Photo by Natalie Lucier.
But what is comprehensive implementation? True, we’ve heard much palaver about what the Common Core portends for assessment, for teachers’ professional development, and for curricular/instructional materials. All true, all crucial, and all probably the most urgent. But these issues are also just the tip of the CCSS iceberg, most of which remains invisible under water. What I haven’t seen yet is clear recognition that the Common Core, taken seriously, eventually changes everything in American education and that implementation, done right, must be comprehensive.
Which means what? Start with a substantial analogy: World War II. A new book profiles General Albert C. Wedemeyer, who was assigned by General Marshall to the Army’s “War Plans Department” as the conflict loomed and (I quote the Wall Street Journal’s book review) “tasked…with reducing America’s mobilization requirements to a single document.” Then FDR asked Wedemeyer’s team to turn it “into
“Ladywonk” Dana Goldstein has written, and The Atlantic has just published, a mostly on-target profile of David Coleman, who takes the helm of the College Board in just a few weeks. This influential new role makes him—and his values, goals, and ideas—more important than ever in American education.
They were already moderately important, thanks to his previous role as a drafter of the Common Core state standards—and his subsequent advocacy for those standards.
The standards are strong, which is why advocating them is important and deserves praise. And David has indeed been effective, particularly in regard to the English language arts standards, his specialty and passion, although along the way he has been attacked by educators (and others) who either don’t believe that all kids are capable of rigorous academic work or who don’t cotton to the kind of deep analysis of literary and non-literary texts that David favors. (“Tell me what’s the evidence for stating that Brutus stabbed Caesar; don’t give me your opinion of whether stabbing is a nice thing to do—or whether you’ve ever been stabbed.”)
Maybe because Ms. Goldstein is, fundamentally, a person of the left (her main day jobs involve the Century New America Foundation and The Nation magazine Institute), she either doesn’t quite grasp or doesn’t much care about the distinction between voluntary common standards—which most but not all states have adopted, some but not all will take seriously, and some may
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.
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