Tag Archives: school reform

New PBS documentary tells a story about education we don’t ever hear

In the small town of Hartsville, South Carolina, which sits just about two hours from anywhere you’ve ever heard of, Monay Parran and her two young sons – eight-year-old Ja’quez, and eleven-year-old Rashon – begin each day in the darkness of the pre-dawn hours.
Parran, a single parent who works two minimum-wage jobs in two towns that are almost an hour apart, must drop her boys off at the bus stop early enough to make it to her first job on time. By the time she sees her sons again, after her second shift wraps up, it will be almost midnight.

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What does it mean to be prepared?

I just spent three days at a wonderful independent school in Columbia, South Carolina. The students there are the types of young people you want to meet and hand over the keys of the world to — smart, thoughtful, and generous of spirit. They’re also the kind of community that is asking all the right questions.

I was most struck by a billboard they commissioned, shortly after their most recent graduation, in which the class of 2014 throws their mortarboards into the air, and the image is accompanied by a single word: PREPARED.

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A School is Not a Pet. And Yet . . .

This weekend’s story in the New York Times about former NFL star Deion Sanders’ struggling charter school lays bare much of what’s wrong with the way Americans think about public education in general, and charter schools in particular.

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Summer, once the time for reflection, now the time for radical redesign

Tanesha Dixon vividly remembers the first summer she spent as a teacher – as part of a service program in Uganda, just before her senior year at Notre Dame.

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Positively Deviant School Reform?

If you had six months, little to no resources, and a clear mandate to solve a chronic country-wide problem – knowing that, if you failed, you would be asked to leave that country altogether – what would you do?

I ask because this was precisely the challenge Save the Children was faced with, in Vietnam, in the early 1990s. And the way they succeeded has great relevance for those of us who continue to struggle with other intractable problems (like, say, comprehensive school reform).

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If Murder Can Be Tracked Like An Infectious Disease, Should Failing Schools Be, Too?

There’s a fascinating new story this morning, courtesy of NPR, in which a team of researchers pored over 25 years of murder data in Newark, New Jersey, and reached a surprising conclusion: murdering someone is not as individualized a decision as we might think. In fact, the researchers are suggesting we may need to adopt a different lens when viewing the problem, and start thinking of homicide less as an individual choice, and more as a reflection of a larger infectious disease like AIDS or the flu.

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The Empathy Formula

For over a year now, I’ve been working with a remarkable group of people at Ashoka who believe empathy is the foundational skill we need in order to become effective changemakers in modern society — and who are bold (quixotic?) enough to envision a world in which one day, every child learns to master it as readily as s/he masters the ability to read and write.

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Are Parent Trigger Laws a Good Idea?

It’s hard not to feel excited for the group of parents who successfully took over their California community’s school, and who now are dreaming of bigger things. “Our children will now get the education they deserve,” said Doreen Diaz, whose daughter attends Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto. “We are on the way to making a quality school for them, and there’s no way we will back down.”

It’s equally hard to feel confident that this story will have the ending Ms. Diaz and others envision.

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What (& Where) Are the World’s Most Transformational Schools?

OK, people, let’s get specific: out of all the outstanding and forward-thinking schools in the world, which ones are truly the most transformational when it comes to imagining a new way to think about teaching and learning in the 21st century?

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New Rules for School Reform

You know there’s a dearth of creative thinking in education when an article trumpeting cutting-edge teaching quotes somebody, without irony, saying the following:

“Get a computer, please! Log on . . . and go to your textbook.”

Yet that’s what the Washington Post did this morning – and they’re not alone. Despite ubiquitous calls for innovation and paradigm shifts, most would-be reformers are little more than well-intentioned people perfecting our ability to succeed in a system that no longer serves our interests.

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