Editor’s note: For those new to redefinED, “blog stars” is our occasional compilation of good stuff from other ed blogs (with a newspaper op-ed thrown in now and then, too).
What most people don’t understand is that managing failure is just as hard as managing success. And this is, I believe, part of the reason school boards don’t improve schools. Stability and coherence are watchwords in both the high-achieving and low-achieving systems. Administrators want to keep their staff happy and their board at arm’s length. In both successful and failing districts, “micromanaging” by the school board is considered a no-no. I recall a woman addressing our board not along ago. “We’re not supposed to rock the boat,” she said. “But the trouble is that the boat has tipped over and we’re lashed to our seats.” Rocking the boat is exactly what must be done to effect change — change, one hopes, that leads to better student outcomes.
I spent most of the last 10 years, on and off the board, pushing for a rigorous curriculum, stopping the disproportionate disciplining of African-American students, and complaining about the over-identification of special ed students (almost a quarter of our student body). But, for the most part, no matter what I proposed — a new bus route, a paint job for the flag pole, or a curriculum — I was mostly ignored. In order to get a pile of old lumber and rusty nails removed from the edge of a playground I had to threaten to dump it in the superintendent’s driveway! Full post here.
Dropout Nation: The NAACP should listen to Romney (and Obama) on school choice
By embracing an education traditionalist thinking and Zip Code Education, the NAACP is aiding and abetting the damage to black children that it is supposed to defend. By taking money from NEA and AFT affiliates (including the $16,200 picked up by its New York branch from the AFT’s Big Apple unit during the union’s 2010-2011 fiscal year), the association is also betraying its obligations as a civil rights group to oppose policies that promote the same denials of equal educational opportunities against which it supposedly fights. In the process, the NAACP refuses to be a much-needed public policy voice and activist on behalf of transforming a failed system, alienating the very school reformers and black families (especially in urban communities) who are looking to build schools that black children (and all kids) deserve. And by adhering to the thinking of aging members who have a vested interest in maintaining failed ideas about how schools should serve black children, the NAACP has also lost opportunities to gain support from a new generation of African-Americans who realize that education is the most-important key to achieving social and economic equality.
When both Romney and Obama share common cause on systemic reform and on expanding choice, it is clear that the NAACP is on the wrong side of history. Now it is time for it to do the right thing. Full post here.