Still risky after all these years

It’s the silver anniversary of what was arguably the most influential education report in modern US history — A Nation at Risk. You’ll find no shortage of commentary this week about the 25-year old Mayday call from a national blue-ribbon panel (it shook up the country more than we can quite imagine today, in our current climate of daily education-bashing). One of the best responses to this irresistible anniversary “hook” comes from the Forum for Education and Democracy, titled: Democracy at Risk: The Need for A New Federal Policy in Education.

In some recent TLN conversation about the Forum report, a member wrote that “€œit addresses the fact that our education system and democracy are even more at risk than they were a quarter of a century ago.”

Reading the 10-page foreword, skimming the graphs (which are shocking and sad) and perusing the four priority recommendations will give you an overview. And, perhaps, some sense of hope about what might be accomplished even now, given the right leadership.

The policy recommendations for improving teaching, our member wrote, are “a refreshing contrast to the ongoing blogger discussions on tracking bad teachers through value-added data.”

They appear in Priority Two: Develop a World-Class Cadre of Skilled Educators:

• Create incentives for recruiting teachers to high-need fields and locations.

• Strengthen teachers’ preparation by focusing on how to teach diverse learners, evaluating teacher performance, and creating professional development schools.

• Launch teaching residency programs in high-need communities.

• Support mentoring for all beginning teachers.

• Create sustained, practice-based, collegial learning opportunities for teachers.

• Develop teaching careers that reward, develop, and share expertise.

• Mount a major initiative to prepare and support expert school leaders.

Do these sound like worthwhile goals to you? You can read the Forum press release and download a complete copy of the report at the Forum’s website. Printed copies are available for $10, including shipping.