Seeking Collaboration Between Reformers, Educators

For too long, we have heard of the battles between the education reform community and educators. From the way these debates have been framed, one would think the two sides couldn’t agree that the sky was blue or that water was wet.

Truth be told, reformers and educators agree on far more than they disagree. and both sides of the school improvement coin are necessary if we are to be successful in efforts to improve student learning and achievement.

Or so Eduflack writes in this week’s Education Week. In a commentary entitled, “It’s Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together,” I note:

The time has come to turn away from the divisive, us-vs.-them approaches of past policy fights. Instead, we must work together with educators to improve our public schools. We must focus on options and opportunities that can have real impact on all our children, not just a select few. And we must do so in a way that improves teaching and learning for all.

Otherwise, we are merely tinkering around the edges, seeking to set the next boundaries for the next fight. Our kids, our communities, and our nation deserve far better than such rhetorical posturing.

As we start another school year, we can’t afford another year of sniping, motive questioning, and hyperbole. Hopefully, this piece gives all sides something to consider.

6 thoughts on “Seeking Collaboration Between Reformers, Educators

  1. Patrick,

    I really appreciate your post on Edweek. Here, here!

    Only one thing I’d like to give you pushback on. You write: “we should focus on how to take the most promising practices from our charter schools and begin to implement them at traditional public schools.”

    This is such an oft-repeated idea that you end up repeating it, even after you’d just acknowledged that there are as many ineffective charter schools as there are effective.

    I work in and know of other district schools that are implementing promising and innovative practices. Such schools may not have the advertising heft or platinum test score numbers of a charter school like Success Academy, but that doesn’t mean their work isn’t exemplary. Let’s remember that learning between charters and district schools is more properly viewed as a two-way street. And we are on this road together.

    • Point taken. But some of the work of charters is worthy of modeling. Remember what former AFT President Al Shanker said. Charters are to be “incubators of innovation.” That hasn’t changed. They can show us what works and what doesn’t. But we have to let them. We can’t dismiss the lessons learned out of hand because they came from charter schools.

    • I do agree that it needs to be a two-way street. No one side has ownership on good ideas. What becomes important in such dialogue is to define what success truly looks like. Then explore the qualitative and quantitative efforts that get us there.

  2. Some work of charters is definitely worth exploring. Some work of districts is, too! That’s my only point. I consider my fellow educators who work in charters to be exactly that: my colleagues. When you talk to educators themselves, these grand distinctions between charter and district are secondary to the important work we do each day with our children.

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