Last month, I asked why schools ignore so many good ideas. Have we not gotten the incentives right? Is it poor leadership? Do we have an ineffective system for disseminating promising practices? Or are superintendents, principals, and educators simply overwhelmed by the avalanche of advice that lands on their desks and in their inboxes? Might there be a way to help them sift the wheat from the chaff, then make good use of the former?
I believe there is. Let me introduce the open-source school district.
Imagine a virtual school district, charged with developing and constantly updating a strategy for addressing the needs of fictitious students.
Imagine the creation of a virtual school district. It wouldn’t have any actual students, teachers, buses, or facilities, but it would have a school board, a superintendent, and a central-office staff. (The superintendent and staff would be paid real salaries and be housed in a real office; the school board would be made up of various “education experts” or maybe “stakeholders” who, like real school board members, would volunteer their time.) It would be given a demographic profile—say, an inner-ring suburban district of 10,000 with a fair amount of racial and socioeconomic diversity. It would inherit the student achievement results, policies, and practices of a typical
A first look at today's most important education news:
"How facility funding fails charter schools," by Adam Emerson, Choice Words
"Conservatives and the Common Core," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Education Gadfly Weekly
"Replication, rural, resistance, reauthorization, and revamping," by Andy smarick, Flypaper
Detroit schools emergency manager Roy Roberts announces that he will step down, citing progress made and leaving the district with a “road map” to eliminate the remaining deficit. (Detroit Free Press)
Texas is considering revamping its teacher-evaluation system, which is currently based on forty-five minute observations by district administrators. (New York Times)
The Center for Education Reform makes the case for independent charter authorizers. (Charters & Choice)
Florida’s state legislature reached a revised budget deal, which includes merit-based pay raises. (Huffington Post)
Virginia’s first fulltime statewide virtual school is on the brink of getting shut down. (Washington Post)
The Hechinger Report profiles the effort to grade teacher-preparation programs.
A report finds that rising out-of-state enrollment at public universities is crowding out poor and minority students. (Huffington Post)
A report finds that English-learners, the fastest-growing subgroup in public schools, need more education philanthropy dollars. (Learning the Language)
Philly’s Schools Phuture?
During the research for my book, one of the most interesting and depressing tidbits I uncovered was that the handful of high-performing, high-poverty traditional public schools described in No Excuses had not been grown by their districts. The central recommendation of my book is that the “four principles of chartering” should be applied across all three sectors; that includes growing great schools of all types (charter, private, and district). Charter growth has been happening via CMOs for more than a decade now, but the Philadelphia Schools Partnership has found a number of district schools to expand. Interesting development.
Addressing Non-urban Poverty
It appears that, slowly but surely, the education-reform community is paying more and more attention to the needs of low-income kids in rural areas (more on this from Bellwether soon). For years now, the primary focus has been on America’s cities. Maybe it should come as no surprise that Teach for America is stepping forward; TFA has long had a number of non-urban outposts. Its new program is designed to train TFA alum for school leadership positions in rural America. This is a tiny program, at least initially, but it’s a start. Good luck, and well done.
Impervious to Competition?
Probably the bitterest pill I’ve had to swallow as a conservative ed reformer is that competition (from charters and choice programs) has had a positive but negligible influence on
A first look at today's most important education news:
"Pearson crosses a line," by Kathleen Porter-Magee, Common Core Watch
"The state of charter authorizing," by Andy Smarick, Choice Words
"Can MOOCs rescue teacher PD?," by Aaron Churchill, Choice Words
Computer problems have led administrators in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Minnesota to reschedule high-stakes proficiency tests. (New York Times)
NPR highlights Harvey Mudd College, a science and engineering school that has had impressive success in attracting women to the computer-science program.
The cash-strapped Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts in Michigan, each of which carried over $10 million in debt at the end of the 2011–12 school year and were appointed emergency managers by Gov. Snyder, have been taken over by for-profit charter-management companies. (Charters & Choice and Education Week)
A new paper by Stanford and World Bank researchers indicates that novice teachers are being systematically matched to struggling students. (Teacher Beat)
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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