Now that the teacher strike in Chicago has ended – and the city’s schoolchildren have returned to school – one thing seems unavoidably clear: despite the agreement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his city’s public school teachers will remain deeply divided, deeply mistrustful of one another, and deeply entrenched for the foreseeable future.
The good news is that the rest of us can learn something from the mistakes both sides in this particular drama have made. In fact, there are cities out there that have actually transformed their school systems for the better, and done so in a way that left everyone feeling good about (and committed to) the changes. To bring about such a shift, however, the central figures of reform in places like Chicago – elected officials and teacher unions – must start thinking very differently about how transformational change occurs, and what it requires.
As school systems across the state of Wisconsin cancel another day of classes – the result of massive protests in Madison following Governor Scott Walker’s effort to strip educators of the bulk of their collective bargaining rights — I can’t help but think of the old adage that two wrongs don’t make a right. Continue [...]
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Tags: cesar chavez, collective bargaining, collective capacity, Labor, teachers, teachers unions, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, UN Declaration of Human Rights, Unions, Wisconsin
A decade ago this month, I taught The Odyssey to a 9th grade classroom for the last time. Today, I’m reminded of Homer’s central lessons – now nearly 3,000 years old – as I watch Adrian Fenty’s tenure as DC mayor speed towards a potentially spectacular, and tragic, end.
I mean ‘tragic’ the ways the Greeks did – as a form of art based on human suffering in which some people find pleasure, but all people find wisdom and insight. And although the election is still a week away, no doubt political scientists are already scrambling to understand why a young leader who, just four years ago, began a presumptively-lengthy reign of the nation’s capitol by winning every single precinct, may now soon be out of work.
It’s almost election season in DC, which means I need to decide once and for all if Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee – and, by extension, Mayor Adrian Fenty – deserve another four years at the helm.
Here are the arguments as I see them:
Increasingly, I hear people talking about the need for “systems change” and “systems thinking,” and when I do I always wonder what people mean when they say it.
My own interest in systems thinking began a few years ago when I read Peter Senge’s classic The 5th Discipline. It influenced me so much that I dedicated a full chapter to the subject in my new book American Schools. Overall, though, I haven’t seen a lot of work in education based on systems thinking. But that seems to be changing.