In this past week’s edition of The Economist, there was a very important discussion of global education reform for any of us who are keenly interested in seeing improvement to education. The Great Schools Revolution points to the extent of reform throughout the globe and to the startling areas of greatest, recent success, e.g., Saxony, Germany; Wroclaw, Poland and Ontario, Canada.
In answering the question of what is leading to the improvement in unexpected places, The Economist summarizes,
Though there is no one template, four important themes emerge: decentralisation (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers.
In the U. S., we have toyed with all four of these themes, but we have been inconsistent and less relentless in our focus than we need to be. Our penchant for regulation – at the federal and state level – gets in the way of accepting decentralization. Our will to identify, support and inspect schools where there is underachievement requires courage – and sometimes resources. But the data make clear that money is not the answer.
Our willingness to accept innovation in the form of technologically-drivencurricula is something that I have written about before in my blog, Larry Penley’s Access With Success, when I focused on the State of Texas’s innovative approach to digital curricula and the role of companies like Adaptive Curriculum. Charter schools and the virtual schools of K12 are important examples, as well. But, in the end, our commitment to high standards for teachers will be at the core of U. S. reform.