Jay Steele, Nashville's high school superintendent, believes that smaller learning communities are the key to high school reform.
It's about relationships. Being a band teacher, you form relationships with kids that go beyond the classroom. You form relationships with the community — you're working with large groups of kids and parents, and you're providing experiences that will last a lifetime for a group of kids. It's the same concept in redesigning high schools. High school redesign is about creating positive experiences for kids that enrich their lives and establish relationships with nurturing adults. Once you have that in place, attendance increases; discipline problems decrease. The kids see relevance in why they're going to school. Then it's easy to raise the rigor of what's being taught. (Tennessean.com)The Zero-Tolerance gap
The causes of over-disciplining reside at the intersection of family poverty, under-funded schools, inadequate teacher training and deeply-rooted cultural biases in the way administrators and students of color respond to each other. It explains why some students get a slap on the wrist for fighting while others get a ride to the police station (David Thigpen, "Rethinking School Discipline" at Huffington).View from right field
Conservative Mike Petrilli has some valid points to make in his critique of "anti-intellectualism" embedded in Arne Duncan's Race To The Top reforms and a curriculum that focuses almost exclusively on easily testable reading and math. Of course all this didn't begin with the Obama regime and Petrilli's alternative seems just as bad to me--E.D. Hirsch's list of what every smart person should know. When you've run through the list, voila! You're smart.
Democratic reformers had better be careful. An obsessive focus on nothing but basic skills in reading and math, which can be chopped into little bits of data with which we can make all manner of decisions, will result in a generation of students who will make Palin sound like Socrates. (The Gadfly)