This summer I'm back with grad students and that allows me to push for a deeper exploration of topics that are of concern to the schools. It also means helping students to develop their leadership potential by finding/refining their "voices."
I've always encouraged impromptu debates among students, but over the next two weeks I'm test-driving a formal debate format between two two-member teams.
EMS 850 - Curriculum for Leaders in Education
- Direct instruction v. Student-initiated instruction
- Senate Bill 1
- National Standards (See below)
EGC 820 - Professional Studies I: Teachers, Schools and Society (Special Education Cohort)
- The use of aversive techniques for behavior management
- Direct instruction v. Student-initiated instruction
This from the Principal's Policy Blog:
Has the Time Come for Voluntary National Standards?
It’s a time-honored tradition in America that states and local districts should have control over our schools. But in the age of global competitiveness and student mobility, is it time to loosen the reigns of local control in favor of something more national?
This was the question addressed in a recent report by the Center for American Progress. The report’s author, Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center, argues that local control of education creates several major problems, including financial inequality, inconsistent standards and inadequate data, and a lack of education research and development. Miller contends that a more national approach to education would help solve many of these problems and calls for the establishment of national standards and increasing the federal government’s share of education funding from approximately 9% to 25 – 30%, with a portion of this increased investment going toward increasing funding for education research.
Miller argues that “it is only by transcending traditional local control, and by getting serious about a new national role in standards and finance, that we can at last create genuine autonomy for local schools.” In creating this “genuine autonomy” Miller also recommends eliminating school boards, which he believes are dominated by teacher unions that heavily influence the election of board members.
Not everyone is convinced this is the correct path to follow, however. At the release of the report, Reginald Felton, director of federal relations for the National School Boards Association, urged the American people to guard against the assumption that doing away with local control of education (and school boards) would remedy decades of neglect, or that a nationalization of education would immediately result in a spike in student achievement.
“One size does not fit all” agreed former Superintendent of Schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District Roy Romer. However, he pointed out that a local school board is not able to create a national math curriculum, and later expressed his support for national standards. Romer indicated that these standards should be
voluntarily adopted by states from the ground-up, instead of forced upon states by the federal government.
Earlier this year, the NASSP Board of Directors proposed a position statement on National Academic Standards in K-12 Education. In the statement, NASSP calls on Congress to “appoint an independent, diverse group of researchers, practitioners, advocates, and experts to develop a set of common national standards and authentic, reliable assessments beginning with Language Arts and mathematics in grades K-12 and examine the feasibility of national standards in other subjects.” NASSP also urges states to actively participate in the development and adoption of those standards, and for the federal government to provide grants to states to assist with the adoption and implementation of those common standards. NASSP invites members’ comments on the proposed statement through April 30, 2008.
There is little doubt that America has, and continues to be going through a period of flux. As Matt Miller concludes in his report, “Once upon a time, a national role in retirement security was anathema. Then suddenly, after the Depression, there was Social Security. Once a federal role in health care would have been damned as
socialism, yet federal spending now accounts for one of every two dollars devoted to health care in the United States, with more certain to come in the years ahead. When it comes to schools, there has likewise always been a tension between the desire to improve the life chances of more children by involving higher levels of authority, and the primordial American distrust of central government. But the truth is we started down this road even on schooling a long time ago. It’s time now to finish the job.”
A longstanding curriculum debate in early childhood education centers on whether early childhood education should follow the traditional academic model of education used with older students (that is, large group, teacher-directed, formal instruction) or whether learning experiences for preschool children should be informal and consist largely of child-initiated activities. Both approaches have pros and cons.
For example, when discussing children living in poverty, Schweinhart (1997) states that an approach that is primarily teacher-directed is likely to discourage children's social and emotional development, intellectual dispositions, and creativity, while an approach based exclusively on child-initiated activities may not sufficiently support children's academic development.