Education's Blockbuster Moment

Learning

A few New Yorkers ago, financial columnist James Surowiecki wrote a short piece about the downfall of Blockbuster video, and why it failed to anticipate the rapid rise of Netflix in its own backyard. Why, he postulated, did Blockbuster not read the tea leaves quickly enough to colonize the web the way it had colonized suburbia? Already blessed with a … Read More

Searching for Schools

Learning

My wife and I have begun the search for our son’s first preschool, which means a steady stream of weekday open houses, packs of adults warily sizing each other up, and crowded tours through classrooms of tiny people. It’s an anxiety-producing process, especially since, in DC at least, the most desirable preschools all attract far more applications than they can accept. It’s also a revealing process in terms of what we value most, and least, for our children based on how old they are.

It's the Development, Stupid

Assessment, Learning, Organizational Change, Teacher Quality

Two years ago, my wife and I signed up to receive monthly emails charting our son’s development. When he was still in utero, the emails began with visual markers of his growth – he was the size of a grape at one stage, the size of a kumquat at another. Now, as he toddles his way through the world, the information is more focused on his behavior, reassuring us, for example, that a recent rise in meltdowns actually means that his development is “right on track.”
Across that same period, I’ve been part of a founding group that will, in August 2011, open a new public school here in DC (a school my son will one day attend). And what I’ve learned is that, for reasons I can’t fully understand, most of our country’s pre-schools maintain this evaluative focus on child development – and most middle and high schools abandon it altogether.
Why is this?

The Gift, a.k.a "Waiting for Superman"

Democracy, Learning

This morning, I received an email from my dear friend Maya Soetoro-Ng, a lifelong educator and all-around deep thinker, who wrote to her friends and family after seeing Waiting for Superman. Please read it — her way of framing the opportunity provided by the film is exactly what we need to hear.

The X Factor of School Reform

Assessment, Learning, Organizational Change

In case you missed it, there was a great piece in yesterday’s New York Times, the core message of which has a lot of relevance for those of us who, barely a week removed from not one but two major reports of misleading test data being used to evaluate schools and school districts, continue to search for the simplest way … Read More

Sir Ken's a Cartoon! Sir Ken's a Cartoon!

Learning

The good people at RSA Animates are at it again, and this time they’ve turned my friend and colleague Sir Ken Robinson into, well, a cartoon — and they’ve animated his core ideas all around him as he speaks. Must-see TV, and, as always, Sir Ken breaks it DOWN. Check it.

The Fake Revolution

Assessment, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change, Teacher Quality

If you spent any time in front of the TV last week, you may believe a revolution is underway in America’s classrooms. NBC dedicated a week of its programming to seed in-depth conversations about how to improve our schools. A new documentary about public education opened across the country to sold-out audiences. And a young billionaire – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg … Read More

Education Nation & Finland

Assessment, Equity, Learning, Teacher Quality

I’m playing catch up with all the programming NBC is producing this week as part of its Education Nation series, but I want to highly recommend one of those videos, an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Finland’s Minister of Education, Pasi Sahlberg.
See for yourself on the video below, but here are a few highlights worth underscoring:

Questions for the Next Schools Chancellor

Assessment, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change, Teacher Quality

Today, presumptive-next-mayor Vincent Gray will meet with presumptive-ex- chancellor Michelle Rhee to discuss the future of DC public schools.
In a way, this is a lose-lose meeting for both. As Rhee has made clear in her typically tin-eared style, she is skeptical Gray shares her commitment to a particular set of reforms. Meanwhile, Gray’s ultimate decision about Rhee is guaranteed to disappoint a significant percentage of his electorate – either those who voted for him to register their disapproval of Fenty’s and Rhee’s style of leadership, or those who voted against him to see her reign continue.
This puts Mr. Gray in a bit of a pickle, but he might as well use the opportunity to think about the essential questions he would want to ask any potential candidate to be the next Schools Chancellor. Here are five he might want to consider: