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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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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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Our Children Deserve Democratic Schools

A few years ago, a reporter in Columbia, South Carolina asked local elementary school children why America celebrates the Fourth of July.

Most of the answers were predictably personal. To eat hot dogs, said one boy. To watch fireworks, a girl answered. Another child thought we all celebrated the Fourth of July because it was his brother’s birthday.

One student, a fifth grader from Nursery Road Elementary School named Vante Lee, gave a different answer. “We celebrate the 4th of July,” he said, “because we celebrate our freedom and the chance to make our own decisions.”

Click here to keep reading.

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Will We Do What it Takes to Improve Public Eduication?

Want to imagine a different path to improving public education in this country? Take my 15-minute challenge.

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