Education Week - October 23, 2013 - (Page 19)

City. Instead of high-stakes tests, students in these public high schools are judged by another challenging, state-approved system. To graduate, students must produce in-depth papers in each of their core subjects and defend that work publicly before panels of teachers and citizen evaluators. These evaluators are professionals who are not school parents, who work outside the school, and who, through this process, contribute their expertise to their city's educational enterprise. As a principal at one of these schools, I often heard evaluators say that the process reminded them of a thesis defense. This is a rigorous accountability system that holds students to a high standard, brings student and teacher work into a public forum, and allows tax-paying citizens to help assess the work their schools produce. * Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vt. Since joining this school community three years ago, I've been impressed by the town's support for public education. "Senior project"-the school's capstone graduation expectation-is one of the reasons why. Every year, students must each design an original project that pursues new learning in collaboration with a mentor in the community. Additional citizen experts sit on panels that evaluate whether the projects meet the district's standards. If students don't pass, they don't graduate. The stakes are high, and the rewards are many for the students and the community. In a graduating class of 70 students, there are 70 different collaborations every year, with new citizen engagement and new projects connecting school to community life. In short, closing the ownership gap is about building meaning- ful partnerships in core subject areas with individuals from many walks of life, particularly those who don't have kids in our classrooms. Teachers and administrators may worry that this kind of learning shifts our focus away from test-based accountability measures. But look, the best protection from a capricious and flawed highstakes accountability system is to do really good work, make the work visible, and ensure that it involves many collaborators, including voters, taxpayers, and citizens outside the school walls. Teachers often say that they want kids to "feel ownership," to feel the relevance of what's being learned. Well, if we are to ensure the future vitality of our public schools, every American must feel this relevance. Citizens from all walks of life need to be connected to our schools and finding meaning there, not just footing the bill.n T. ELIJAH HAWKES is co-principal at Randolph Union Middle/High School, in Randolph, Vt. He was the founding principal of the James Baldwin School in New York City. Famous Public School Alumni Clockwise from top left: Carlos Santana, Mustafa Quraishi/AP; Annie Leibovitz, Charles Dharapak/AP; Alvin Roth, Darryl Bush/AP; Alvin Ailey, Paul Burnett/AP; Stephen Spielberg, Francois Mori/AP; Ronald Reagan, Dennis Cook/AP; David J. Wineland, Ed Andrieski/AP; Jimmy Carter, Paul Sancya/AP; Maya Angelou, Gerald Herbert/AP. Changing the World, One Student at a Time By Brian Cleary dom, intelligence, freedom of thought, creative expression, and the imagination needed for students to propel our nation to the center of the world stage. America's teachers inspired generations of students to become scientists, engineers, architects, doctors, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, poets, and presidents. The guiding hands of a teacher once helped a young child tie a shoelace and later that same child set foot on the moon. And yet no monument exists to thank this teacher or the countless others who held the hands of children and led them to successful and productive lives. Our nation's teachers have been responsible for espousing the belief that education is the foundation of a free people. The time is long overdue for influential people and powerful organizations such as the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to use their political clout and philanthropy to thank America's teachers by creating a National Teacher Monument in Washington. I imagine a Norman Rockwell-like image of a teacher hold- ing a child's hand. The child is holding a stack of books and looking at the teacher. With his or her free hand, the teacher is pointing ahead to the future. But perhaps the details are best left to the imagination of an artist-a person once taught by a teacher. Let the voices of America's teachers be heard loud and clear: A National Teacher Monument would make Washington complete. Such a monument would tell a story, too-the story of our nation-and every good teacher would represent a chapter in this most remarkable story we call America.n ANTHONY J. MULLEN is a special education teacher at the ARCH School in Greenwich, Conn. He was the 2009 National Teacher of the Year, the 2009 Connecticut State Teacher of the Year, and the 2008 Greenwich School District Distinguished Teacher of the Year. He has blogged for Education Week Teacher and written numerous articles about education for books and magazines. He is also a special consultant to the dean of Mercy College, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. W hen I hear someone complain about the public school system, I feel like a parent listening to a rant by a 15-yearold. They tell me that I am terrible at my job and that I don't listen. In angry frustration, they tell me that I don't understand the problems, and that I care about the wrong things and should be doing more. As a parent and as a teacher, I sit and listen, trying not to provoke. These rebukes are not news, and they are not right, but they do offend. I don't really understand the psychology that makes teachers and parents the scapegoats for so many problems, but in both cases I know the truth: We stand and face the challenges daily. We have become the faces associated with the struggle. I am not a perfect parent; far from it. But my kids are happy and successful. I see evidence of their growth constantly, even when they are blind to it. The public education system is also far from perfect. But our kids are doing better every year. I see evidence of that too, even when those complaining don't. * About 90 percent of the kids in the United States go through the public school system. * The dropout rate has fallen consistently over the past 40 years. * The literacy rate in the United States is 99 percent for those age 15 and older. * Most of our recent presidents-from both parties-were largely products of public education, including Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon. * Four of the five Americans who won a Nobel Prize last year attended public schools. Those winners are David J. Wineland (physics), Robert K. Lefkowitz (chemistry), Brian Kobilka (chemistry), and Alvin Roth (economics). Roth attended a New York City high school, but went to college without graduating from high school. * Musicians Wynton Marsalis and Carlos Santana, writer Maya Angelou, artist Andy Warhol, director Steven Spielberg, dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, and photographer Annie Liebovitz all graduated from public schools. The public school system is not broken. Just like the parents of most 15-year-olds, it is overwhelmed and overworked. It is also underrated and underfunded. But still our school system is pushing the world forward. We are as responsible for our successes as for our failures. So when I read that we are not competitive, or when they tell us that our students will not be prepared to lead us into the future, I choose to ignore the insults. The same holds true when I hear that our students have no critical-thinking skills, and that they are weak in science and are not creative. I respond the same way I would to my 15-year- old. After the rant has ended, I respond that I care, and that I will continue to work every day to create the best possible outcome. Some of that work will mean fixing the problems I helped create. More of that work will require taking the situation that has been handed to us and making it work. Either way, I will continue to be the very best teacher I can possibly be. I am not trying to keep up with the pace of change in the world. I am trying to prepare students for a world of change. I will continue to change the world one student at a time.n BRIAN CLEARY is an instructional coach at Hearthwood Elementary School in Vancouver, Wash. EDUCATION WEEK | October 23, 2013 | | 19 " I don't really understand the psychology that makes teachers and parents the scapegoats for so many problems."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 23, 2013

Education Week - October 23, 2013
Colorado Tax Boosting K-12 Up to Voters
Paddling Persists in U.S. Schools
Health-Care Law Raises Questions For Districts
K12 Inc. Learning Difficult Lessons This School Year
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Student Majority in South and West: Poor Children
School Poverty Said to Hurt College Access
Media Group Calls on Companies To Protect Students’ Personal Data
D.C. Teachers Improved After Overhaul Of Evaluations, Pay
Blogs of the Week
K-12 Advocates Remain Braced For Fiscal Fight
Illinois Among Outliers With No NCLB Waiver
Appeal Argued on Affirmative-Action Ban
The Public School Ownership Gap
We Need a National Monument to Teachers
Changing the World, One Student at a Time
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Common Core’s Power for Disadvantaged Students

Education Week - October 23, 2013