Tag Archives: radical

NEA: Charter Schools Are Okay … If They're Not Really Charter Schools

The teachers unions have a delicate dance to do when it comes to public charter schools. In the not-too-distant past, when charters were a new idea and still very small in number, outright opposition to nip them in the bud. Charter schools are largely non-unionized (with exceptions) and provide competition from within the public education system. But over the years has come a gradual evolution. In many states the unions have grudgingly accepted charters as part of the landscape, while working quietly to limit their successful expansion. Then along have come a Democrat president and secretary of education who advocate more charter-friendly policies. Union officials aren’t about to give in to the more radical anti-charter elements of their membership, but they decided they had to do something to make a statement and quell the growing tide of charter school opportunity and innovation. As explained by Nelson Smith of the National Association of Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), the just-ended big to-do known as the NEA Representative Assembly provided the perfect opportunity to do precisely that:

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All Eyes (Including Mine) on Radical Westminster School Innovation

I’ve told you before about Westminster School District’s program to move from seat time to standards — re-thinking the whole traditional grade system that has dominated American education for decades — and the Doogie Howser-like potential such a system could offer me. Well, earlier this week, Rebecca Jones at Ed News Colorado chronicled the fact that the moment of truth has arrived for Westminster (aka Adams 50): It’s the last day of the 2008-09 school year in the district. The last day of life as most students and teachers there have always known it. The last day that categories like “third grade” or “sixth grade” – or A or B+ or C- — will exist in most of Westminster. The district is scrapping traditional notions of grade level and doing away with letter grades. Students will instead progress through academic levels 1-10 based on their mastery of subjects, not on the length of time they’ve been in school. This concept, known as standards-based education, has been tried in individual schools and in some small districts in Alaska, but never before in a large, urban district such as Westminster. The bold step is bringing national attention to the district.

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Jay Mathews Inspires My Radical Ideas to Spend $100 Billion on Education

In today’s Washington Post, education columnist Jay Mathews raises the question: If you had $100 billion to fix our schools, what would you do? Faithful readers know I was skeptical of the federal government’s “magical money tree” a few months ago. My sentiment hasn’t changed. Some ideas for spending 100 billion (that’s a 1 followed by 11 zeroes) new smackeroos in the education bureaucracy inevitably will be better than others, and some may end up yielding some positive results. In his column, Mathews grades five proposals for spending the money, realistically noting of those who submitted the proposals: Their goal is to get the biggest change by January 2012. I think they are dreaming. The federal stimulus is designed to save jobs, not raise student achievement. But some (not all) of the ideas are so good some states might (repeat, might) be tempted to try them. To rate the five proposals yourself, as well as five others Mathews invented, check out his blog post.

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Michelle Rhee Helping to Inspire My Radical Education Reform Side

I am bummed. Not only did school not get canceled today, but I also missed my chance to see Washington DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee. She was in Denver last night. (Follow that link to read the story and watch a video of her.) Where was I, you ask? Getting a long timeout and an early bedtime for excessive Lego-throwing. That made me even angrier, because Michelle Rhee is one of those few education leaders willing to take on a real fight to help make a difference for kids. Don’t believe me? Look at the article by Jeremy Meyer in the Denver Post: “We have public schools so that every kid can have an equal shot in life,” Rhee said. “That is not the reality for children in Washington, D.C., today or many children in urban cities today. That is the biggest social injustice imaginable.” Rhee said radical changes are necessary. “Unless we do something massive about this right now, unless we are willing to turn the system on its head . . . then all of the ideals of this country are actually hollow,” she said. Not that I agree with everything Rhee has to say, but it is […]

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