And the Band Played On

Keeping its eye on the really critical issues facing Americans this election season, the Times this week reports on the dearth of private school placements for kindergarten in Manhattan–“it’s harder than getting into college!” Apparently things are so bad that one tony pre-school graciously decided to open an elementary school after a few five year olds didn’t get their first choice private school.  It is really great when people step into the fray and fill a pressing social need like that.

In other news, Donna Foote notes in this week’s Newsweek that at Locke High in Watts a few years ago, 1,000 kids started as freshmen, 240 graduated in four years, and 30 of them had the prerequisites to go to a California state school. 

–Guestblogger Kevin Huffman

2 Replies to “And the Band Played On”

  1. That’ article is why I have been hoping to hear some substance from you guys during your guest blogger gig.

    I think its great that TFA wants to embark on systemic change. Who knows, maybe you hqave the better approach.

    The bulk of the evidence, though, has shown that NCLB has largely failed because it encouraged simpler instruction-drieven approaches that The Turnaround Challenge concluded are inherently incapable of turning around the complex ecosystem of the toughest schools.

    My school is smaller but otherwise the numbers is almost identical. Or at least they are now. We were a semi-hard core school before NCLB, but when we tried to implement the standard curriculum-driven approach, i.e. teach at grade level, assess frequently, provide remediation, as well as professional development provided by people who truely believed, we drove dozens of kids out of school. I think the problem was the plan, not the skill with which we tried to implement it.

    I’m not even trying to convert you guys. I want to hear what you honestly believe when you see evidence that contradicts your approach. I want to know whether you have actually contemplated the alternative approach as articulated in the Turnaround Challenge. I want to see if you have wrestled with the CEP reports, which reinforced the findings of the Turnaround Challenge, and also commented that principals did not want to go on the record when describing the challenges brought from poor families. I want to know whether it bothers you that that extreme level a socialization occurs that educators don’t feel free to articulate the obvious.

    In fact, that is what I really want to know. I understand the sausage making of politics. But I can see Michele that you are young. When I was your age, it would have really ripped me up to have to deal with the half-truthes of politics, and even now it bothers me more when good-hearted educators manipulate evidence in an effort to achieve a greater good. Somehow, it doesn’t bother me as much if BloomKlein for instance use statistical tricks to make money on the stock market, but I hate it when deceit is used to try to help school kids.

    So, I really don’t necessarily want a debate, but why not a discussion on Locke and other hard core challenges. Just because we headed down a certain path for six years, that doesn’t mean we can’t change course. I don’t want the new generation of reformers to be playing Hamlet all the time, but I would like some evidence that you have open minds and would discuss potentially better approaches.

  2. I noticed a typo. I meant to ask how many signers of the EEP had ever produced a peer reviewed document. I did check their web site, and just eye-balling the list it looks like only two or three have been through the peer review process. Don’t get me wrong because I believe scholarship is only a part of the process, but you raised the issue. If you are looking for evidence, I could come up with many signers of the Broader Bolder Challenge that have more proven experience in data and evalution than the whole list of EEP signers put together. Data isn’t everything, but we’ve got the data.

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