There Will Be Blood?
Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher reminds us today that school improvement does not necessarily require a death-match between high-profile "reformers" and the education "establishment."
Fisher tells the story of a once struggling elementary school that has dramatically raised the achievement of its overwhelmingly disadvantaged student body: "Broad Acres did this without Rhee's reform tactics: no young recruits from Teach for America, no cash for students who come to class, no linkage of teacher pay to test scores."
In other words, Broad Acres made great strides without any of the capital "R" reforms that dominate national discussion about education. Nor did they make their gains over the dead bodies of recalcitrant teachers, administrators or community members.
What did Broad Acres do? The school fostered on-going faculty collaboration, gave strugging students individual attention, offered engaging out-of-school enrichment activities, and supported students' physical and mental well-being.
This is not to argue that we should abandon important discussions about those capital "R" reforms, which focus mainly on incentives and governance. Rather, the national media should stop making a fetish out of those reforms, as if nothing else mattered. (It would be nice to hear more about teaching and learning, for example.) And the media should stop implying that every successful reform requires a brawl.
Reforms like those carried out by Broad Acres are having a profound impact on public schools and districts across the country. Such reforms are not nearly widespread enough, but they are gaining an important foothold. National journalists would do well to notice.
Image: guardian.co.uk Book Blog
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Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
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