Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let's Open the Doors Wider - Bridging Differences - Education Week

Let's Open the Doors Wider - Bridging Differences - Education Week:

Let's Open the Doors Wider

Dear Michael,
You say, "The choice today is not between 100,000 Central Park Easts or Mission Hills and 100,000 test-prep factories. If it were, I'd pick Deborah Meier schools in a heartbeat. But let's face it: There aren't more than a handful of Deborah Meier schools out there ...."
One "minor" correction, there are far more than a handful of schools "like" mine, and during that short window of support in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were hundreds and the number was growing fast. But I'll save that for another exchange. You've come up with a proposal—an opt-out—that I might work on while we continue to quarrel over means and ends. (How about giving parents an opt-out, too?)
We're closer on this point than I'm comfortable with! It's perhaps a plan that, if implemented, would get us moving in a different direction—if we also don't insist that it solve all our schooling or economic problems! It would not make me more supportive of charters with boards that do not represent their constituents, or of vouchers, or evaluating teachers by student test scores, or trying to cut back—if not destroy—teacher unionism. Given all that, it sounds like a useful step that could help. And it might even give the "test prep factories" another choice.
Some years ago I wrote a chapter on "scaling up" for Part II of In Schools We Trust. I still agree with it. It summarized what I had learned about the short, lonely life of so many schools that were celebrated over the years for their breakthrough results. I was cocky enough to think we had finally gotten the answer, and we put together a proposal for a major experiment on behalf of accountability to our students, their families, and our