A month went by fast, and I will be the first to admit that it has been both a painful and hopeful learning process. A painful process because I am feeling a little less trust in this community. A little less trust that people presume best intentions – something I am guilty of not doing and certainly something that I have felt on the receiving end of this last month. But hopeful because I have met some really wonderful individuals who have given of their time, talents and resources to try and ensure that this process remains as productive as possible for the sake of our larger community and the larger goals we share.
I have been watching the opt-out movement across the US with fascination. What I find most remarkable is the reaction of many in the education reform community to the growing chorus of voices pushing back on current reforms. Many of us have been worried about the direction of reform for years, but it was easy to ignore us as naysayers. Now that students and parents have taken matters into their own hands and pundits like John Oliver have taken up the cause the concerns are not as easy to ignore.
But what I find astounding is that many in the education reform community still don’t get it. Sure there are small elements of this movement that are about conspiracy theorists trying to claim “government intrusion” into state education affairs.
I’m having a lovely weekend with a friend who is expecting her first baby this summer. My friend and her husband are in the process of name selection and she was sharing with me the challenge she is having figuring out how to have the name reflect both her and her husband’s family. It is a struggle I think many of us have had, as more women elect to keep their maiden names after getting married. Whose last name does the baby get? Do you hyphenate and let the child make the hard choice about which name to keep when he grows up? Do you have one parent’s last name be the middle name knowing that most people don’t use their middle name, thereby making that name less important? Do you make up a new name? It’s a bit mind-boggling.
I’ve been reading a lot about adolescent development behavior recently and the more I read, the more I am coming around to the idea of boarding school for middle and high school students.
A lot of expat kids come home to Singapore for the holidays. And I’m not talking about college students – I’m talking about middle and high school students. In the US the idea of sending your child to private boarding school is generally unheard of outside of a small subset of families. However, in much of the rest of the world boarding schools are a far more common phenomenon. It’s been interesting to chat with some of my nephews’ friends who have been at boarding schools for a large portion of their middle and/or high school career, and even more interesting to hear the perspective of these kids’ parents.
There is a fascinating trend in policy these days that is related to the “decision-based evidence making” that I wrote about a few months ago. It appears that Texas, the state where standardized testing beatification began in the late 1980s (thanks to Ross Perot), reversed course.
For better or worse, however, the “Texas miracle” led many other states, advocacy organizations and the federal government to make standardized tests the lynchpin of education reform efforts, most notable No Child Left Behind and other “accountability” systems at the state level.
I was at the annual meeting of a local Chamber of Commerce last week and couldn’t help but be struck by the simplistic way in which business leaders talk about education reform. I am frustrated by the double standard adopted by the business community when it comes to shaping and, in many cases, driving education reform efforts.
Business leaders are vocal in opposing increased regulations on business generally and on all manner of specific industries. They argue that politicians and bureaucrats do not understand the complexities of business; that regulations create hurdles and uncertainties that stymie innovation and growth; and that the money used to comply with regulations could be better spent on core business enterprise.
Yet, when it comes to education, we see three growing trends among business advocates: