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Book of Learning Stories — Deadline Nears

I’m spending every minute this week finalizing the manuscript that will stitch together 50 people’s stories about powerful teaching and learning (Jossey-Bass, Spring 2011 release). Already, there are powerful voices and insights in the mix — from everyday citizens to U.S. Senators to the Secretary of Education himself. And although we already have several hundred stories to work with — and far more than 50 that are worthy of being in the book — you still have one week to share your own experience and have it be considered for publication. Just visit rethinklearningnow.com/stories/submit and tell us about your experience, and what it is that made it so worthwhile. USE YOUR VOICE!

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Less Standardization, More Flexibility

Great piece by the New York Times‘ Bob Herbert two days ago, in which he writes the following: “When you look at the variety of public schools that have worked well in the U.S. — in cities big and small, and in suburban and rural areas — you wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea to throw a stultifying blanket of standardization over the education of millions of kids of different aptitudes, interests and levels of maturity. The idea should always have been to develop a flexible system of public education that would allow all — or nearly all — children to thrive.” Indeed. The full article is at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/opinion/18herbert.html.

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What the NFL Draft Can Teach School Reformers

This Thursday marks the prime-time return of the NFL Draft — an annual smorgasbord of possibility when each team fills out its roster with the best talent the college ranks have to offer. I’m a huge football fan, so I’ll be tuning in to see which players my beloved San Diego Chargers select to fill our current holes at running back and defensive tackle. I’m also a huge public education fan, so I confess that I wish the leading voices in my field — from Arne Duncan to Michelle Rhee to Joel Klein — would also tune in, and heed some of the most relevant lessons to be learned from the NFL. In particular, I wish they’d pay attention to three truisms:

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BBC Walk and Talk

I spent this afternoon walking and talking with BBC reporter Kavitha Cardoza about assessment systems and what the U.S. can learn from other countries around the world. Check it out at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/world_news_america/8612399.stm.

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Privatization or Public-ization?

There’s a lot of talk these days about the growing support for a privatization of America’s public school system, and what it augurs over the long haul. Typically, that’s as far as the conversation gets before breaking down into myopic talking points that force people to pledge allegiance to one of two camps: these days you’re either pro or anti-charter, pro or anti-union, or — the most insulting — pro-adult or pro-kid. I can’t predict how it’s all going to play out, but I can see that these binary frames are misleading distractions that work great as sound bites, and prevent us from addressing the primary challenges we face as a nation. I can also suggest an illustrative tale worth paying attention to, on from the other side of the globe where the exact opposite push — a public-ization of the school system — is taking place. Click here to keep reading.

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