Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School reform should involve whole communities

The U.S. Department of Education is committing over $4 billion to a program called Race to the Top, and states will compete for a share of the fund. As reported earlier in EdLog, Louisiana is positioned to receive a goodly portion of the money.

But before the competition can begin, the DOE must write rules. Up until last Friday, the department was collecting comments and suggestions about those proposed regulations. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers is one of thousands of organizations, individuals and governmental bodies that submitted comments.

You can read LFT's press release about the comments here, and the comments themselves are posted here.

In the document. LFT President Steve Monaghan warns about the danger of unintended consequences:

“Too often in the recent past, school reform has meant no student left untested
and no teacher left unblamed. We hope that Race to the Top can open a new
chapter in the school reform movement, one that values the professionalism
of teachers and embraces a whole-community model for change.”

LFT's comments are a product of our state's experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and grounded in the Federation's core values. Monaghan says that true education reform requires a bolder, broader approach than in the past, one which treats the school as an integral part of a larger community:

That means any long-term evaluation must include components that measure
the contributions of parents, administrators and school boards to student
success. Broadened further, the process should include the roles played by
systems of health care, juvenile justice, higher education and all the other
elements of community that have an impact on the growth and development of
an individual student.

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