School Leaders Unite in Washington Post: Teacher and Choice Reforms Needed Now

The Waiting for Superman debut (coming soon to a theater near you, my Colorado friends) really has super-charged the discussion about the American education system and the need for change. This weekend the Washington Post featured a column by 16 major school leaders — including Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg, former Pueblo City School superintendent J. Wm. Covington and my edu-crush Michelle Rhee. The theme?:

But the transformative changes needed to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy simply will not happen unless we first shed some of the entrenched practices that have held back our education system, practices that have long favored adults, not children. These practices are wrong, and they have to end now.

It’s time for all of the adults — superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike — to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children. Because right now, across the country, kids are stuck in failing schools, just waiting for us to do something.

Yes, but Colorado kids can’t wait anymore. The main issues touted for significant change by the school leaders include reform of teacher hiring, tenure and compensation practices, as well as greater public school choice and stronger, more equitable support for public charter schools.

The venerable Core Knowledge founder E.D. Hirsch added another important piece to consider in a New York Daily News column a couple weeks ago. While I don’t necessarily agree that improving curriculum “means more” than any other part of the reform agenda, it certainly is crucial and cannot be overlooked. There’s a reason why many Colorado parents choose Core Knowledge charter schools for their students, and thousands more are on waiting lists.

All in all, though, we can be certain there’s a lot of important work left for us Education Transformers to do, and much of it will require more than treading delicately around the edges. Thanks to Waiting the Superman for expanding the conversation.