Friday, November 6, 2009

Long thinking about state and local reform

Together, the chapters in this volume suggest that student success is only possible in an educational environment that responds to and nourishes each child's individual curiosity, personal learning style, past experience, and cultural heritage. That environment, it is argued, is one where educators are highly flexible, free to adapt curriculum and instructional practices to particular pupils and situations, and able to inquire and deliberate systematically and regularly about how they might be yet more responsive to their students. That sort of environment can only be created by those who work within it: the staff, the students, the parents, and any actively involved citizens who voluntarily make the school part of their lives.

If that argument is correct, a good school requires a kind of yeast to rise, and people outside the school, including state officials, cannot supply that ingredient. That does not mean, however, that they cannot contribute, because inert resources like facilities and supplies remain important, and because inappropriate regulation, like too much salt in the bread dough, can cause the yeast to die. If state officials think carefully about what must be allowed to happen at each school, they can select those roles that make it possible for parents, teachers, and students to play effectively their distinctive roles in effective education.
The bread-baking metaphor should have mentioned that some warm accountability will also speed the yeasty work. Other than that, the analysis still seems sound to me sixteen years later. It's my own conclusion to an essay called "Beyond Micromanagement, Beyond Deregulation: the State Role in Effective Education Reform," published in Investing in U.S. Schools.

1 comment:

  1. Your article has stood the Test of Time, Susan. Thanks for you continuing wisdom and interesting and imaginative perspective, not to mention your beautiful writing.


Updates and data on Kentucky education!