Education Week - August 28, 2013 - (Page 27)

EDUCATION WEEK AUGUST 28, 2013 n n 27 “ Are states really focusing on the crucial details of implementation and allotting enough time and resources to get the job done?” tion. Is this really time well spent? Figuring out the right amount of practice for a new skill or concept, the correct order of introduction, when to provide more guided instruction, and when to provide more fluid structure is difficult. The common-core mathematics standards provide a more overt progression than do the English/ language arts, or ELA, standards. While the appendix to the ELA standards provides a progression for phonemic awareness and language skills, no such progression exists for writing. The standards themselves contain a phonics progression, but details on teaching are left up to schools. Unlike the mathematics standards, the ELA standards are pedagogically neutral, except for their focus on close reading. Textbook publishers, if they do the job right and thoroughly, can bolster the implementation of strong curriculum to support achievement. New math and ELA texts and resources are essential to implementing the common core successfully. If left to schools and districts alone, articulation and coherence may be elusive. Amnesia also seems to afflict some educators when it comes to the National Reading Panel findings from April 2000, which recommended that systematic phonics be PAGE 29 > LINDA DIAMOND is the chief executive officer of the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education, in Berkeley, Calif. She is a former public school teacher, principal, director of K-12 instruction and professional development, and senior policy analyst for an education think tank. She is also a co-author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook, 2nd Edition (Arena, 2008); Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures, 2nd Edition (Academic Therapy Publications, 2008); and Vocabulary Handbook (Paul H. Brookes, 2007). She can be reached at What Really Matters In Education: Compassion By Carol Lach The following is based on a speech the author gave upon her retirement from the Massachusetts education department in March. A doing the same thing on the last day of the job that they did on the first. When I left teaching almost 30 years ago for the first time—I’ve since returned twice—and began a career in publishing, this was the reason. I saw the years stretching out ahead of me, locked in that same room with the same students, and as much as I loved the work, this scared me. I wanted a multidimensional career that would allow me to develop in my field and continue to work with students without always, always being on the front lines, alone. My vision of a great job to reach for? A master teacher leading a team of three or four educators at different levels of experience and expertise—a chef and her sous chefs—working together to oversee the learning of the same group of students. Ideally, we not only would be responsible for cooking up the curriculum, we’d also have the discretion to set the ebb and flow of our daily work. Unfortunately, many in education who are reading this will protest that education is, in fact, moving in the direction I describe. They might suggest, for example, that we consider the whole new phenomenon of teacher-leaders and teacherpreneurs—yes, that is a new buzzword. But look closely at these roles, and you realize they are few and far between and last only briefly. They give a teacher some time off to sit on a committee or lead a community effort for a semester or two, while also being responsible for maintaining most of the daily classroom duties. The sad truth is we are scaring the great cooks away from education. Teaching, as currently conceived, is a job that only the most profoundly dedicated and self-abnegating or uncritical or uncreative would want to commit to as their life’s work. You want high-quality education for your children? You have to attract high-quality teachers. The team-based model I have outlined might require investing more money in teachers. But it would also free up a brave district to spend considerably less on the fancy materials and attendant elaborate trainings. Michael Pollan makes the point that we have outsourced the job of feeding ourselves to corporations. We have done the same thing with learning. There is magic in cooking, Pollan says, pointing out that the words “cook,” “butcher,” and “priest” are equivalent in Greek, and that they share the root word “magic.” Learning, true learning, is magical. And yet, teaching isn’t any more mysterious or special than preparing good home cooking was decades ago. And there are many people out there who can and are, in fact, aching to do it. Many of them are already in the classroom, and others would be attracted to the profession if they could truly dig in and make a difference. Let’s free them up to do some real home cooking and see what magic they can make.n PAULA STACEY is a writer, a developmental editor of books on K-12 education, and a former teacher of every level from elementary school through college. She can be reached at s educators, our world was upended by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School late last year. Our response as a nation ranged from proposing gun legislation so nothing like it would ever happen again to dismissing the event as another terrible act of a disturbed child—one with Asperger’s, or from a broken home, or suffering some terrible undefined problem. Closer to guns. It’s not about Asperger’s. It’snot about “ home, in 2007, a 16-year-old at Lincoln-Sudbury High School (in Massachusetts) stabbed another student to death. The assailant was later found guilty of first-degree murder in the case, meaning blame fell totally on him, and the high school’s reputation wasn’t tarnished. His lawyer said the young man had suffered a lifetime of harassment and bullying because of his mental illness, which caused him to be fearful and anxious. According to The Boston Globe, as a grade-schooler he told a psychiatrist that his three wishes were to win a million dollars, have a lifetime supply of junk food, and to stop being bullied. So why am I telling you this? Because ... It’s not about guns. It’s not about Asperg- er’s. It’s not about bullying. It’s not about legislation. You can’t legislate compassion. What it’s really about is student sup- port, community, and caring. More than 40 years ago, one of my stu- dents at Carver Junior High School in Mississippi asked me, “Why should I care about your math, if you don’t care about me?” I gave him some lame response, I’m sure, but this question has stayed with me all these years. “Why should I care about your math if you don’t care about me?” It’s even more important today. We’ve become so far removed from the kids with legislation, policies, data, grades, improvement plans, assessments, professional development, evaluations, and accountability that we have little time to really care about the kids, to even hear the question. While I was at the state education depart- ment, I had the privilege of getting to spend a full day at Charlotte Murkland Elementary School in Lowell, Mass., and to get to know the school’s leadership team. Why do you think this school is a model of a success- It’snot about bullying. It’s not about legislation. ... What it’s really about is student support, community, and caring.” ful turnaround? Its story is about getting “the right people on the bus,” as Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great. This team looked at the root causes of its failures, created community, and developed a culture where achievement and effort are recognized and applauded. It’s a place where kids who need help get it, where families who need food get it (180 bags of groceries are picked up every week). It’s a place where every child is given the opportunity to rise above the survival and safety levels on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and to be part of a community, to gain self-esteem and more. We continue to look at symptoms of failure, continue to evaluate and blame teachers, and continue to look for silver bullets disguised as innovative approaches. Are we dissecting and following the Murkland Elementary model and other examples of suc- cess? Are we identifying the root causes of poor performance and then working to change conditions that truly address the issues our students face? Are we following the lead of our vocational-technical schools in helping kids find a niche, success at something, a career that will give them a future, that will motivate them to learn, to finish high school and go beyond? We need the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats on the bus. We need to keep the students at the center of our work. We need to remember that education is not a one-size-fits-all product. While standards and expectations are important, we need to remember that not all students will be successful with four years of high school math. If I had been required to achieve similar athletic standards in physical education for four years in high school, I never would have graduated. If I hadn’t had teachers who dealt with the bullies and a sister who listened and understood me, I don’t know where I’d be today. As you continue your work, please don’t lose sight of the students. Look for ways to help streamline policies and regulations so school staff members have time to encourage their students’ talents, and find ways to provide those students support, to be mentors, and to have the time to care. n CAROL LACH recently retired after working in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for 10 years, in the agency’s offices of instructional technology; and math, science, and technology/engineering. Her teaching experience spans all levels (K-16) in three states. She blogs at daythechalkboardfell.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 28, 2013

Education Week - August 28, 2013
Waiver States Under Scrutiny
Common Core: A Puzzle to Public
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Fla. Virtual School Faces Hard Times
Stacked Deck Seen in Growth of PBIS
This Week
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Most Students Aren’t Ready for College, ACT Data Show
For Rural Teachers, Mentoring Support Is Just a Click Away
Philadelphia Gears to Open Schools After Aid Reprieve
Blogs of the Week
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: New Sites Designed to Help Choose Best Ed-Tech Tools
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Museums, Researchers Shifting To Online Science Ed. Outreach
Common Core Grinds Along Amid Michigan Debate
‘Course Choice’ Venture Gets Started in Louisiana
Policy Brief
PAULA STACEY: The Best Education Diet? Real Food, Prepared Well
LINDA DIAMOND: The Cure for Common-Core Syndrome
CAROL LACH: What Really Matters In Education: Compassion
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JAMES H. NEHRING: Think Education Is Like Medicine? Think Again

Education Week - August 28, 2013