"It’s in that atmosphere that the Harvard Graduate School of Education is creating a new doctoral degree to be focused on leadership in education. It’s the first new degree offered by the school in 74 years. The three-year course will be tuition-free and conducted in collaboration with faculty members from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The idea is to develop dynamic new leaders who will offer the creativity, intellectual rigor and professionalism that is needed to help transform public education in the U.S.
This transformation is a job the U.S. absolutely has to get done, and it won’t get done right without the proper leadership. Kathleen McCartney, the graduate school’s dean, explained one of the dilemmas that has hampered reform. “If you look at people who are running districts,” she said, “some come from traditional schools of education, and they understand the core business of education but perhaps are a little weak on the management side. And then you’ve got the M.B.A.-types who understand operations, let’s say, but not so much teaching and learning.”
The degree to be offered (initially to just 25 candidates) is a doctorate in education leadership (Ed.L.D.). The fact that the program is tuition-free, thanks in large part to an extraordinary grant by the Wallace Foundation, is important. Harvard is trying to reach out to the broadest possible field of potential candidates. “We can’t do that unless we remove all the barriers to studying here,” said Dean McCartney."
And in the third year:
Students will spend the third year of the doctoral leadership program in a “field placement” at some organization or agency — say, a large urban school district or educational advocacy group — to gain practical experience. School officials likened this aspect of the program to a medical residency. Instead of doing a dissertation, the students will lead an education reform project in that third year.(This was interesting to me because Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, who has a PhD in Educational Administration, Supervision, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado at Denver was part of the Broad Residency program to develop superintendents for urban school districts which is somewhat like the proposed last year of the Harvard program.)
The comments after this story were not especially encouraging. It ranged from criticizing Harvard for NOT allowing more people in to Harvard Business School ruining the American economy to saying it's too little. Maybe people have little faith in the education of the educators or maybe it's too little.
There was also this:
Hog Wash!! When will the left stop hiding from the truth! There are two factors in Education that no Harvard Degree will solve:
1. Single parent households(fatherless)
2. Teachers Unions
This is not about ethnicity or race! When Black and Hispanic children go to private schools - and even suburban public schools - they do much better!
So is the above true? Would public education do better if we addressed single parent family issues and got rid of or lessened the power of teachers unions? (Although one commenter pointed out, "Unions are not perfect but it is interesting to note that South Carolina that prohibits unions has 38 of the worst 100 schools in the nation.")
And this (somewhat edited for length):
When I was teaching on the college level, I saw two problems with the graduates of America's high schools. The first was the tremendous variation among the backgrounds of college freshmen. Some came from wealthy suburbs or college towns, where the parents rode herd on the school board and demanded a strong academic curriculum. Others came from inner cities or poor rural areas. Their parents were either unable or unwilling to make demands of the school board. They were the people who were too overworked and stressed to oversee their children's education, had a poor educational background themselves, or were downright anti-intellectual. Unless these students were tremendously self-motivated, they had basic literacy skills and not much else. Sometimes their schools didn't even offer a foreign language or math beyond Algebra II. One small town in Oregon even dropped all its art and music classes in order to save its football team.
The much-vaunted principle of local control may therefore produce excellence, or it may produce criminally poor schools. Mostly it produces mediocrity, thanks to the second problem, the basic anti-intellectualism of American culture.
It has never been cool to be intellectually gifted in America's high schools, unless you can redeem yourself by being a good athlete. Unfortunately, our mass media reinforce this attitude more than ever, first of all by dumbing down their content and second by treating all opinions as equally valid. How can teachers create and maintain interest in science when media pundits are telling their audiences that global climate change and evolution are just matters of opinion? How can our young people be motivated to learn when radio personalities rail against "intellectual elites"?
People who have mastered educational gobbledygook or MBA numerical obsession are the LAST things we need in American education. We have too much testing, too many faddish theories, and too many numerical performance standards.
Instead, we need to create basic, broadly stated national guidelines (e.g. fourth graders should learn the history and geography of their home state, sixth graders should know how to do all kinds of basic arithmetic, seventh graders should begin the study of a foreign language), hire creative, dedicated teachers, and turn them loose to educate the children in their own unique way. Schools should work with parents to help them help their children learn. The mass media should stop dumbing themselves down and increase the sophistication of their content."
On that last point, I was watching the Daily Show and there was a piece about how one the Fox commentators, Gretchen Carlson, seems to play dumb ("I didn't know what a czar was so I Googled it.") and yet, she graduated from Stanford, studied at Oxford and was Miss America (where you actually do have to have some smarts as it is a scholarship program). Maybe it makes those viewers feel better when the commentators act like what Obama is talking about is a mystery but it's really no help at all.
So would back to basics, vaulting of education upwards in this country and less local control turn the tide? I have to say that seeing Sarah Palin in action and knowing that a segment of this country would even consider her qualified to be vice-president (or now, president) stuns and mystifies me (especially since there are indeed bright conservative women).