As 2015 comes to an end, I have three education-related wishes for the year ahead.
- In 2016 I hope education reporters will do a better job than I did of “following the money.” When charter schools became an option in most states, profit-seekers emerged in droves. Some are running for-profit charter schools, but others are operating what are legally non-profit institutions. I think a lot of these folks are pulling a fast one and are ripping off the public, but I was never able to report that story. In a better world, the legitimate charter school industry would recognize the threat to their ‘brand’ and would fight for transparency in financial and other dealings. With few exceptions, unfortunately, that’s not happening.
- I wish and hope that many school superintendents and school boards will take advantage of the murky atmosphere surrounding the new education law that has replaced No Child Left Behind. It’s about 1000 pages, and the regulations have yet to emerge. Now is the time to do the right thing for students. Most educators know schools test too much, and they know that so-called ‘rigorous’ education is boring kids to tears. Now is the right time for courageous progressives to embrace project-based learning, blended learning, and challenging curricula that replaces what I call ‘regurgitation education.’ NOW is the time, and the window won’t remain open long.
- I hope that the opt-out movement will soon decide what it is FOR, because it’s never enough to be against something. My sense is that many who are angry about what they perceive as ‘over-testing’ want schools that ask “How is each child intelligent?” to replace the system that gives tests in order to label, classify and sort children. Individualized attention is possible today, thanks to technology–but only if we harness the machines to allow children to dig. I recommend our film, School Sleuth: The Case of the Wired Classroom,” for a strong view of what can go wrong and what is possible. The link to watch the 55-minute film is https://vimeo.com/122667211 The password is schoolsleuth123. You will also get a kick out of the celebrities who help the (clueless) Sleuth ‘solve’ the case. (And the beautiful and talented jazz singer who opens and closes the film is my younger daughter.)
May 2016 bring peace and justice. Happy New Year!