Should schools be held primarily responsible for improving student achievement, or do they need help from health and social programs to ensure their students’ success?
The first group in a statement titled “A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education,” asserted that schools can’t do it alone. “We need to work on these other fronts as well,” said Helen F. Ladd, a professor of public-policy studies and economics at Duke University and one of the three co-chairs of the group, referring to the call for better health services for children and high-quality preschool, after-school, and summer programs.
The group, whose stetement was signed by Richard Day of KSN&C, is made up primarily of researchers and former federal officials, and is trying to focus debates on the difficulty schools have raising achievement if students don’t have access to health care, early education, and other services.
A day later, a second group launched.
The Education Equality Project, formally launched New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, argues that “public education today remains mired in the status quo” and “shows little prospect of meaningful improvement” without significant changes in the ways schools are structured, its statement said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is the only person I'm aware of who signed on with both groups. And now an effort is being made to bring the two groups together.
Politics K-12 is reporting that a new concensus may be emerging.
At a two-day summit in Washington, a group of 14 education policy leaders, including Linda Darling-Hammond, the NEA’s John I. Wilson, and two former governors, pieced together a set of six recommendations to President Obama.
1. Assure Readiness: Success in the classroom requires that children arrive ready to learn – cognitively, physically, and psychologically.
2. Provide Rich Learning Environments for All Students: All young people in America deserve rich learning environments that challenge their thinking, promote learning by doing and focus on higher-order thinking skills that encourage life-long learning and prepare young people to be engaged, collaborative citizens.
3. Improve Overall Standards, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment: Standards should be more common, more rigorous, and benchmarked against the top international standards. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment must be aligned with each other and with those international benchmarked standards.
4. Improve Overall Teacher Quality: Policies and systems must be in place to promote best practices in teaching, reward high performers, and provide opportunities for feedback and development for those in need of improvement.
5. Ensure the Development of 21st Century School Leaders: School leadership should be focused on a combination of student learning, progress, and culture-building, while enhancing the quality of teaching.
6. Generate and Use Research Effectively: Ensure the use of existing research and advance new research topics that address issues specific to 21st Century challenges.
The consensus paper doesn't wade very far into the thornier issues facing K-12, such as how to get rid of ineffective teachers, or what common standards would look like. The group also debated, and decided against, using the words "charter schools" in the consensus document.
Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, now leads the Alliance for Excellent Education. Other members include:
--Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, chairman, Strong American Schools
--Felicia Y. Blasingame, president/CEO of South Central Community Services, Inc.
--Alan M. Blankstein, president and founder of the HOPE Foundation
--Anne L. Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association
--Linda Darling-Hammond, professor, Stanford University
--Dan Domenech, executive director, American Assoc. of School Administrators
--Sharon Lynn Kagan, professor, Yale University
--Debby Kasak, executive director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform
--Michael L. Lomax, president, United Negro College Fund
--Pedro A. Noguera, professor, New York University
--Karen Pittman, executive director, Forum for Youth Investment
--Joe Williams, executive director, Democrats for Education Reform
--John I. Wilson, executive director, National Education Association