You know, there are some really smart people out there thinking about public education and public discourse. I wish more people would read their writings. It's people like Trish Millines Dziko who runs TAF Academy. (FYI, they are having STEM Day camps during Spring Break.)
Vu Le, who is the Executive Director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association, is another one. He has the blog, Non-Profit with Balls.
(Explanation on the title: You may be thinking, “Why ‘Nonprofit with Balls’? Isn’t that sexist?!
Why not ‘Nonprofit with Balls and Ovaries,’ you sexy sexist pig?!” The
title comes from an experience he had, described here.
Basically, it refers to all the balls that we nonprofit professionals
have to juggle: clients, board, staff, volunteers, funders, auditors,
payrolls, budgets, cashflows, trainings, annual events, etc. We are all
knee-deep in balls. We have balls coming at us from every direction.
Sometimes we “drop the ball,” but no worries, since there is never a
shortage of balls in this line of work.)
(He also has a fabulous page on scheduling meetings which I think should be required reading.)
His latest thread - Which comes first, the Equity Egg or the Accountability Chicken - is worthy reading.
At a panel I was on, the topic was parental engagement. “We can talk
all we want about all sorts of things,” said one of the other speakers,
“but at the end, it comes down to parental accountability. Parents need
to be responsible for their kids’ learning! They need to read to their
kids and make sure they do their homework!”
Yeah, said the room, clapping, that’s the American Way!
“I agree,” I said, “parents should be involved in their kids’
education.” But, I pointed out, many of them don’t have the language
skills, or they are poor and work several jobs. And then because they
are poor, they tend to go to struggling schools, and those schools don’t
have translation services, or any staff who can spend time with the
parents, so even if a parent really wants to be engaged, they come to
school and there is no one to help them. So if we want parents to be
accountable, provide them the resources they need first.
You'll see this coming - for every kind of parent - with Common Core homework. That, my friends, will be fun. (I did talk to OPSI and they say there will be help for parents. I have seen some of this and find it....not-so-helpful. You can, of course, say, "Okay, Timmy, we're supposed to read this and find this" BUT if you don't know know the Common Core way, how can you really help. Math will be even more fun.
That’s why our work is important. We above most people understand
that equity comes first. Sometimes, though, we also forget, and we also
fall into the accountability trap.
If we want equity, we must start with equity. And there are instances
where it is working. Finland, for example, has become one of the best
school systems in the world, if not the best. They focus on ensuring there is equity first.
In fact, they don’t even have a word for “accountability.” There are
few standardized tests, for example, and they don’t make their
principals spend 80 hours writing a grant to get the resources they
need, a grant so awful it’s like taking a handmade quilt, gathering
crazy ants onto it, then wrapping the quilt around yourself while
listening to Passenger. And yet they are excelling. In comparison,
Norway, with a similar homogenous population, has bought into this
system of competition, punishment, and accountability, and they are not
doing nearly as well. This is only one example, but it is a strong one. (bold mine)