Category Archives: Organizational Change

To Reimagine Public School, Just (Ignore) The Facts, Ma’am

Is it possible for people to change the story we tell ourselves (and one another) about public education?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this question. And some recent studies all suggest that if the answer is ever going to be “yes,” we have some serious work to do.

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Categories: Learning, Organizational Change

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This is what it looks like when a community designs its own school

At its best, nothing is more unifying and vital to a community’s civic health than a high-quality neighborhood school. Why, then, do all notions of “school choice” end up being about either charter or private schools?

Enter Oakland SOL, a new dual-immersion middle school in the Flatlands section of Oakland, California — and the city school district’s first new school in more than a decade.

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Categories: Democracy, Equity, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change, Parenting, Starting a School

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To reimagine learning, we must reimagine the physical space of “school” — but how?

For more than a century, the physical layout of American schools has been as consistent as any feature in American public life. Although the world around us has been in a constant state of flux, we have always been able to depend on a familiar set of symbols in our schools: neat, orderly rows of student desks; teachers delivering lessons to an entire group of children; lockers in the hallways; bell schedules — the list could go on.

But what if those timeworn structures of schooling are actually preventing us from reimagining education for a changing world? What if, in fact, the physical environment is — after parents and peers — the “third teacher” of our sons and daughters?

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Categories: Design & Space, Learning, Organizational Change, Voice

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180: Mississippi Rising

Of our fifty states, I can think of no other whose local history — for better and for worse — captures the essence of the larger American story.

In a sense, we are all Mississippians.

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The Age of the Individual is Upon Us

One year, early in my teaching career, I got reprimanded for giving too many “A’s.”

“You can’t give everyone the same grade,” I was instructed. “Give a few A’s and F’s, and a lot of B’s and C’s. Otherwise, everyone will know that your class is either too easy or too hard.”

This was unremarkable advice; indeed, it was as close to the educational Gospel as you could find. It was human nature in action.

And, apparently, it was completely wrong.

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Categories: Assessment, Equity, Learning, Organizational Change, Teacher Quality

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To Measure Success in America’s Schools, Count the Flamingos

As an educator, I can’t think of a more important, elusive, and agonizing question than this doozy: How do you measure success?

So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered a new source of inspiration for how we should answer it, by way of a 27,000-acre fish farm at the tip of the Guadalquivir river in Southern Spain.

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This is how libraries can be reimagined

Imagine what would happen if this sort of spirit spread throughout the rest of our public schools?

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Donald Trump, Westworld, & the Future of American Democracy

Is the 2016 presidential election the beginning, or the end, of American civic life?

I say it’s both.

Pessimistically, one can say we are witnessing the end of civility, honesty, and empathy, and the beginning of the end of our two-centuries-long experiment in a quasi-functional representative democracy. Yet I believe what this election must provide, no matter who wins on Tuesday, is a wakeup call from our collective somnambulism, and a call to confront the Brave New World we have already begun to enter – a world in which we can disappear into virtual realities of our own imagining, and therefore one in which our ability to be more conscious (of ourselves, our surroundings, and the invisible systems that hold us prisoner) must become the lingua franca of a renewed civic order.

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Categories: Democracy, Leadership, News of the Weird, Organizational Change

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Discipline in schools moves toward peacemaking

The first time he got in trouble, 7-year-old “Z” kicked his teacher — getting him into more trouble.

A few months later, shortly after his grandfather passed away, he kicked his teacher again.

In many schools across the country, where zero tolerance policies allow little wiggle room for understanding why a child may be misbehaving, Z would have been suspended, expelled, or even arrested.

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A Year of Wonder: What is the Future of Higher Ed?

It’s been the no-brainiest of no-brainers for as long as anyone can remember: If you’re a parent, and you have the means to do so, a mark of your commitment to your children is measured by the amount of money you’re able to sock away for their college education.

But what if it’s no longer true?

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