The true key to reform

We’re big fans of the Richard Harwood Institute over here at DeFENSE, simply because he understands that real change cannot happen without the buy-in of ALL  stakeholders, not just the power brokers.  Those of us with ties to the Denver Public Schools know that this has often been the big problem.  We know that the lackluster results of our schools has much to do with the fact that there is no global buy-in of initiatives.

Harwood makes a thoughtful analysis of the D.C. schools in the post-Fenty era.  For those that don’t know, Adrian Fenty just lost his reelection bid as mayor of Washington, D.C.  He was known in the pro-“reform” circles as being tough and courageous.  Some people have a different idea, however.

Harwood writes,

The key to reform is to root it in people’s shared aspirations for their community, and not to make it merely about best practices anointed by a cadre of professionals.

Amen.  Read on, and come back here to comment.

What Oprah didn’t say yesterday

Sabrina Stevens Shupe, our ally and panelist on the recent media bias forum, has beat us to the punch in writing a great post about the dog-and-pony show on charter schools on Oprah’s show yesterday.

One thing Oprah didn’t mention was that DSST’s model is to take no more than 45% of low-income kids, or those receiving free or reduced lunch subsidies.   But aren’t charter schools supposed to be the silver bullet (don’t answer that…we were being facetious).

Read Sabrina’s post here, then come back and discuss.

Really great introspective blog post about “reform”

Mark Waxman is a Denver-area educator, with long ties to national charter school chains. He writes an introspective blog post over at EdNews Colorado about the value of education…what’s it for? What do we intend for our kids?

While he is decidedly a person in favor of innovation in the classroom, he seems to have a very objective approach that we applaud here at DeFENSE.

Read, and come back here and discuss.

You can’t fire your way to better teaching

We just listened to this radio documentary on national radio. The bottom line is you can’t fire your way to better teaching. Most teachers are satisfactory or above, but they can be much better through investing in their teaching through daily (non-punitive) coaching and collaboration. Also, poverty does matter, and so teacher experience.

Below is the link for the transcript.

The case for small class size in primary grades

The Tennessee General Assembly and State Department of Education recently released the data behind a long-term study that measured the effects of smaller class sizes in the primary grades.

The conclusion?

This research leaves no doubt that small classes have an advantage over larger classes in reading and math in early primary grades.

Read the report here.

Read the NY Times article about the research here.


Our next event: Corporate Media Bias and School Reform

Democrats For Excellent
Neighborhood School Education


How Corporate Media Shapes the School Reform Debate
(and what Progressives can do about it)

Wednesday Sept. 15th, 2010
Crossroads Theater – Five Points
2590 Washington Street (26th & Welton)

Community members, grassroots journalists and social media activists will shine the spotlight where the mainstream media refuses to go, including:

  • The myth of objectivity in a one-newspaper city
  • Corporate media & the Charter School Industrial Complex
  • School privatization, gentrification & corporate interests
  • Critique of pro-reform infomercials like “The Lottery” and “Waiting for Superman”
  • Grassroots “trouble-makers” vs. corporate saviors
    Casting teachers as villains and administrators as heroes
  • “Civil Rights”as a corporate slogan
  • Strong women facing the Goliath political machine
  • Community engagement: the missing link
  • Power to the people through grassroots story telling

Supporting Organizations: Northeast Community Congress for Education, Colorado Black Round Table, Colorado Progressive Coalition, Black Education Advisory Council, and the Diverse Neighborhood Collective

For more information or to join the DeFENSE coalition, please contact: