The battle in the Windy City is essentially about one thing: education for the best of us and then for the rest of us. This isn't just a clever phrase, however. There are drastic inequalities between the best and the rest.
America's schools aren't doing nearly well enough, especially for our neediest children. We need accountability systems that create urgency and push for significant gains every year. Ideological arguments and utopian objectives don't help.
What I do know is that everyone is focused on the tests. Insofar as those tests are assessing critical academic and life skills, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but judging a student, a teacher or a school by those scores is not getting us where we need to be.
Now I don't claim to be smart enough to understand the whole testing debate, but from a classroom teacher's perspective, it seems like everyone ought to relax and start with the things reasonable people can agree on:
My school is in a formal School Improvement process, with loads of money from various sources and hard deadlines for real improvements in attendance, discipline, graduation rates and student test performance. And we are improving.
A holistic approach brings together elements that support the development of a child who is healthy, knowledgeable, motivated, and engaged, seeking to ensure all that is required for successful life and preparation for society.
Three cheers for California's governor, state superintendent, and state board chair, for applying for a waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Child Left Behind) that doesn't kowtow to Washington.
Over the last decade, the United States has witnessed a dramatic improvement in student performance -- especially among previously underserved students at the lowest socioeconomic rungs. Those gains were in large part the result strong accountability systems.
Let's get back to the core purpose of public education -- ensuring students have access to a great education that prepares them for lifelong learning and success -- and leave the pressure cooker for pot roasts.