Category Archives: Democracy

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 […]

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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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Turning School Chance Into School Choice

There are a lot of smart people in Washington, D.C., and one of them is Evelyn Boyd Simmons.

A longtime D.C. resident, an effective parental advocate, and a firm believer in the unmatched promise of public education, Evelyn has a way of cutting to the quick on complicated, contentious issues. And so it was when in a recent conversation, she summarized the state of affairs in American public education with a clever turn of phrase.

“What people like to call school choice,” she said flatly, “is nothing more than clever marketing. What folks really have is school chance.”

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Should Integration Be a Goal of DC Public Schools?

From 2000 to 2010, the white share of the District of Columbia’s population grew from 30.8 percent to38 percent . And from 2000 to 2012, the median household income in the city rose 23.3 percent while the nation saw a 6.6?percent decline, adjusted for inflation. This rapid gentrification provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create racially and socioeconomically integrated public schools. The D.C. Advisory Committee on Student Assignment, which is redrawing school boundary lines and feeder patterns, should seize this opportunity.

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Rethinking School Boundaries

Now that DC is taking up the delicate question of whether its boundary lines for neighborhood schools needs revisiting — the first time they’ve done so since 1968 — it’s worth thinking through the issue with them. This morning, I was part of a public radio conversation that featured DC Deputy Mayor Abigail Smith and […]

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The Good, the Bad & The Maybe on Charter Schools

Three recent articles seem to capture the promise and the peril of the charter movement all at once. First, there was my piece exploring the evolving case law that challenges the notion that public charters are indeed, under the law, public schools. Then there was the news from a recent study suggesting that charters are […]

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In Balancing Freedom and Security, A Tale of Two Cities

All this talk of Edward Snowden and the tension between freedom and security has reminded me that back in 2006, as part of a documentary history of First Amendment Rights in America, Section 215 of the Patriot Act was one of the book’s 37 primary sources.

I think what we wrote then has relevance now, but you, dear reader, will have the final word on that point. Enjoy –

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What Happened in DC in 2008 – & Does it Still Matter in 2013?

If a prominent urban school leader told you he couldn’t recall being informed that half his city’s schools may have allowed the gross mistreatment of students to occur, would you believe him? And even if you did, would you still want him in charge of your children?

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The Wisdom of Crowds, Untapped

The decision by DC Council Education Committee Chairman David Catania to hire an outside law firm to craft school reform legislation is an awful one, worthy of serious public rebuke – and for two interrelated reasons.

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A Part of Us is Dying in Chicago

I can’t reconcile the deep sense of community that filmmakers Amy and Tom Valens have captured in their 10-part video series about a year in the life of a public school in Boston, with the painful public clashes we’re witnessing in Chicago – where 54 of the city’s schools will soon be shuttered.

Indeed, although the nation’s attention is fixed on the historic fight for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court, a part of us is dying in the Windy City – and no one in the mainstream media seems to care.

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