Is there a good way to close a neighborhood school?

I just spent some time learning about a remarkable public school in Burlington, Vermont — the Sustainability Academy — and perhaps the most remarkable thing I heard was the way it turned a potentially catastrophic community event — the closing of a neighborhood school — into a positive success story that has deepened, not diminished, Burlington’s sense of community.

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This is the future of technology — how will it impact teaching & learning?

Educators and school reformers — ignore at (y)our peril.

(And crazy to think that this talk was from 2005!)

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This is what a community conversation about school reform looks like

Now that my new book is out, I’m doing a series of public talks around the country to explore core issues of choice, reform, and community.

My first event was at the legendary DC bookstore, Politics & Prose, and they videotaped the conversation, which featured everything from high-stakes testing to E.D. Hirsch to a quick crowdsourcing of the core characteristics of the ideal graduate.

See for yourself, and let me know if it was helpful.

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The Neuroscience of Democracy

In the ideal educational future, is there a single design principle that matters most in establishing the optimal learning environment for children?

That seems like a pretty important question to consider. And if you were to go by today’s leading reform strategies, you might conclude that the answer is, variably, greater accountability, better use of data, more strategic use of technology, or more personalization (all good things, by the way). Yet for my money, the design principle that matters most is the one modern reform efforts care about the least – the extent to which schools are creating true laboratories of democratic practice.

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What is the modern face of school choice?

That’s a question I try to answer in my new book, Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice.  But there are some other questions I try to answer — specifically, the ones Greater Greater Washington’s Natalie Wexler asked me in this Q&A about the book.

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How do you design a great school (& a great system)?

Too often, when I look around at what passes for innovative practices or cutting-edge policy recommendations, I see something very different: I see us perfecting our ability to succeed in a system that no longer serves our interests.

Two recent articles reinforce this point — and light a different path, one that will actually help us reimagine education for a changing world.

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This is what a great school looks like

Imagine if more places were as concerned with integration (as opposed to separation) as the fundamental design principle of a great learning environment?

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This is what young people are capable of

Who said youth is always wasted on the young?

You Don’t Know Jack | Morgan Spurlock (SPANISH Subtitles) from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

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Are Charter Schools Helping Or Hurting Public Education?

I’d characterize this one as a pretty reasoned conversation about the issue — which is surprising, since it comes from Democracy Now, which is pretty clearly in one camp and not the other. I attribute that to Steve Barr bringing some nuance to the conversation.

Still, listen to both sides, and judge for yourselves . . .

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In New York, A Tale of Two Cities (and Two Selves)

At the New Teacher Center conference a few years ago, I watched a master teacher model a great way to introduce students to new material. She projected a single image onto the screen in our conference room — it was Liberty Leading the People — and asked us a single question, over and over again: “What do you see?” Any observation (“I see a strong woman”) would prompt a second question from the instructor (“What’s your evidence?”). It was fun, and illuminating, and after ten minutes, based on nothing more than our own close observations, we were ready to study the French Revolution.

I was reminded of that workshop recently, when I saw someone on Twitter share the following picture:

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