04/11/2011

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New review of McREL's The Future of Schooling Dave Orphal, over at the Learning 2030 blog, offers this nice review of McREL's latest book, The Future of Schooling, available from Solution Tree Press. In his review, Orphal praises the book for its timeliness. He notes, for example, that one of the critical uncertainties identified in the book---whether the outcomes of education will be standardized or differentiated---is currently playing out in the "movement to national common core standards" being countered by critiques from "Sir Ken Robinson and Daniel Pink who argue that standardization is exactly the wrong direction to go." Orphal also praises the book for its balanced view on these issues, noting that the authors take "great pains to not reveal where they stand in some of the hottest educational debates raging the country." He adds, "Neither pro-Rhee nor pro-union; neither pro-testing nor pro-authentic assessment; neither pro-charter nor anti-charter, there is plenty in this book to anger every side of our overly partisan educational reform circles." Our intent is not to anger anyone. Rather, it's to provoke thinking about what the future may hold, to move people out of their comfort zones so that they can begin to prepare themselves for what may lie ahead. As we write in the book, "Some of these potential futures may capitvate and energize you; others may dishearten and frigthen you. Some may do all of the above. That's the point." Read Orphal's entire review here.
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Georgia’s Vision Moving Closer to Reality An earlier blog, The Power behind Envisioning, describes the Georgia Vision Project, one state’s effort to rally residents in support of a singular high-stakes cause—providing all children in the state with an excellent education so they can be successful in college, career, and life. A risky endeavor, you say? You bet it is, but so far, the response to the 45 recommendations has been great, say the planners. That response could be sheer luck, but it’s doubtful. Take, for instance, the fact that the George Lucas Foundation has tapped Whitfield County Schools in rural northwestern Georgia (where 66% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch) to be part of its new “Schools that Work” series. At first glance, Whitfield County, which includes five public middle schools embracing project-based learning, seems the polar opposite of the first school profiled in the series—San Diego’s High Tech High, a network of nine K–12 charter schools founded by a coalition of business leaders and educators and with an annual operating budget of about $27 million. Despite marked differences in school culture and resources, the schools share important principles: a common intellectual mission, personalization, and adult-world connections. And herein is a lesson for us all. Perhaps more school districts should be like Whitfield County, where educators are respected enough by the community to make decisions about what is and isn’t good for their kids; where supporting one another is a practice, not just an idea (e.g., administrators fulfill morning duties so teachers can meet...

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