Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Education Moving Forward

Today I had the pleasure of attending the US DOE working group on school leadership looking to exchange ideas on teacher recruitment, retention and leadership in general. A number of points from this outstanding discussion:

  1. Our teachers of the year are pretty amazing – Nebraska, Connecticut and Arkansas had outstanding ideas and thoughts
  2. Teachers think differently than teacher unions – no shocker here but union policy input tends to meet their goal of better pay and conditions for members while teacher policy input really looks at what is best for the students
  3. Customization – there is no “one size fits all” for teachers – whether it is training, certification, performance pay, mentoring – stop trying to find one solution for all 3.2 million teachers, it will not work
  4. Any time you start to pick at the edges of education it starts to snowball into all the things that need to happen to fix the thing you were picking at – the only real conclusion is that the current education system cannot work in the current reality of 2008 and we need total educational system redesign to fix any part of the broken system
  5. If people don’t stay in jobs for more than 5 years, why would teaching be different – find ways to work within the reality of the social environment and stop trying to hold on to preparation systems that don’t work in the current reality
  6. Education Schools need help – they can no longer be ignored by universities and need a serious upgrade in what works
  7. Value add is solidly in the vocabulary of teachers – say what you want about NCLB but I have heard more teachers talk about gains then ever before
  8. The “teaching to the test” mantra is still a crutch as is talking about the mythical loss of music, social studies etc. NCLB didn’t make this happen. Your student test is supposed to be aligned to student learning standards which are supposed to be aligned to what students need to know. If teachers teach to the standards, by default they are teaching to the test which is teaching to what students need to know to succeed.

Sadly – the administration is rapidly approaching lame duck status and like all the millions of panel discussions in DC, this great exchange will be cataloged and placed on a shelf without real action.

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