More thoughts on StudentsFirst

Posted: January 13, 2011 in post

I recently engaged in conversation with an educational leader and writer regarding thoughts on StudentsFirst (S1). Here are a couple of comments from this anonymous individual:

“The S1st agenda strikes me as a glib “if only…” policy wish list. Sounds good on paper. Doesn’t jive with reality.”

Agreed. I have not seen how any of the stated objectives are to be accomplished. I think teacher union busting is a pipe dream. Another education expert recently tweeted, “Big news: Tenure began in late 19th c, before there were unions, to give underpaid teachers a modest degree of security.” So, tenure is not a creation of the NEA or other unions. Tenure has been important in protecting freedom of speech. Stripping teachers of tenure is not likely to create a collegial environment.

Another comment from the first anonymous source: “I also wonder: What problems are we trying to solve, and to what extent are they really problems everywhere? Or just in DC?”

This is a great point. The DC schools have been ailing and failing for years…does that equate to all schools failing? No. As I stated in my previous post, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the “problem,” such as a “problem” exists. Students are doing very well in certain districts and in certain schools within districts. As an example, the school where I work–I do not teach and am not directly employed by the district; however, I am connected with the district and service students–has seen significant year over year gains on results. Personally, I do not believe 100% is posible in most circumstances, but it is a phenomenal goal, and our building is fast approaching at 88% achievement this past school year. Why should anything be changed in this successful school? We adapt and change to meet the needs of our students to ensure year over year growth. The “formula” such as it is, is unique to our building…it “works” for us…it might not work in another building.

The above stated, we don’t keep our successes to ourselves: we consistently have other schools and leaders visiting us to see what we are doing. They are free to take what will work for them, and free to adapt as fits their individual needs, which are surely different from ours.

Ending point: Some things work in education, others do not. Each school, and each individual student is unique and has unique needs and abilities. Suggesting that we mandate specific changes for “education” is folly. Seeking continuous improvement is the way to go. Let’s have a little more faith in our educators and educational leadership. Nobody “wants” to fail….

  1. I’m somewhere in the middle. I mean, I don’t exclude it but neither am I willing to let myself convinced without taking the time to further investigate.

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