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Jason Miller
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Speaking as someone who is spent the last decade in school reform, I agree with a lot of this, but I want to suggest some other points as well. First, consider this post in light with your brilliant post yesterday regarding AEA. I submit there is an identical problem going on in education. Districts and teachers have been fighting for decades when, really, if they teamed up to fight the real problem, they would be far more effective. The real problem is educational apathy and it closely mirrors what you were talking about yesterday. Also consider that the standards-based-reporting that Kevin is discussing and the projects that Trinidad talks about (both of which are vast improvements over the status quo) take, in most cases, some degree of curriculum outsourcing. Teachers are simply too overworked to be able to develop unique curricula and reinvent assessment in the ways that are needed. I think there is a lot of ire going towards for-profit curriculum companies, but some of them deliver a great service and do very good work. Would I prefer an state agency that can continue to develop cutting edge, evocative curricula? Sure, but I don't see that happening any time soon. I believe some degree of marketplace competition is important in keeping curriculum current. Remember, lowing class sizes doesn't just take hiring more teachers, it means building more schools (or at least expanding existing schools) as well. It also may mean hiring some less effective teachers. (Ultimately this comes down to specific schools and districts--we would see a greater number of less effective teachers in poorer schools. We could discuss why in another post if you like)) Effectively lowering class sizes is extraordinarily expensive and while it helps somewhat, a great deal in some places, it certainly isn't a silver bullet. While I agree that testing is largely over utilized, to some degree it is necessary. I liken testing to getting an annual physical. You go in, you see how your doing, and you get the data you need to continue on. No one trains for a physical, no one is stressed out about a physical, you just come out knowing "I really should lose some weight this year or I need to exercise a bit more." That is how testing should be used in schools. Just a regular check-in to make sure you know how you (or you kids, or your schools) are doing reference against some larger sample. Lastly, I submit that we should also considered lengthening the school day. Before everyone jumps down my throat on that one, the lengthening of the day is where kids would have exposure to art, music, drama, sports, technology, "play time," homework help-- all of those things we all know we need more of that the kids don't get at school. We shouldn't need to pay extra for after school services and take off work to transport kids all over town to meet these needs--they should be part of the educational day. This would help solve one of the great problems of income inequity in schools. So, my response ended up longer than your post. Sorry, but this is one I am passionate about.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2015 on Fixing Education in America at David Blixt
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Mar 24, 2015