Approaching ed reform—backwards

Picking up on my theme from the last post, here’s an extended quote from a new article by George Wood:

Somebody Explain This to Me | The Forum for Education and Democracy.

For the past eighteen years I have worked as a high school/middle school principal along side a dedicated staff and a committed community to improving a school. In that time we have increased graduation and college going rates, engaged our students in more internships and college courses, created an advisory system that keeps tabs on all of our students, and developed the highest graduation standards in the state (including a Senior Project and Graduation Portfolio).

But reading the popular press, and listening to the chatter from Washington, I have just found out that we are not part of the movement to ‘reform’ schools.

You see we did not do all the stuff that the new ‘reformers’ think is vital to improve our schools. We did not fire the staff, eliminate tenure, or go to pay based on test scores. We did not become a charter school. We did not take away control from a locally elected school board and give it to a mayor. We did not bring in a bunch of two-year short-term teachers.

Nope, we did not do any of these things. Because we knew they would not work.

Wood goes on to suggest, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the key to helping improve the quality of all schools is to look at and listen to those who have actually been successful at doing what we claim we want to accomplish.

And here’s a tip: Some of the best educators in the country can be found inside some of the most dysfunctional or statistically low performing schools. Another reason to resist the lure of reconstituting a school or mass firing of teachers and staff without an honest evaluation of the expertise that often exists stifled within it.

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