Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shanker Blog » The Plural Of Anecdote Is Data

Shanker Blog » The Plural Of Anecdote Is Data:


The Plural Of Anecdote Is Data

Last week, I attended a Center for American Progress (CAP) discussion, where UC Berkeley professor David Kirp spoke about his research on Union City’s school system, and offered some ideas from his new book,Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.
Kirp’s work and Union City have received a lot of attention in the last month or so, and while most find the story heartening, a few commentators have had more skeptical reactions. True, this is the story of one district in onestate finding success through collaboration and hard work, but research from other disciplines – sociology, business, management, organizational studies – suggests that similar human dynamics can be observed in settings other than schools and school districts. I would like to situate Kirp’s work in this broader framework; that is, among a myriad of studies – case studies, if you will – pointing to the same fundamental phenomena.
Union City is a community with an unemployment rate 60 percent higher than the national average, where three-

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