Learning Systems Thinking

Systems are what learners must understand, and that understanding
comes from learners themselves investigating many different systems,
looking for general principles. This requires (1) noting significant
parts of the system being studied, (2) identifying important
relationships among those parts, (3) deciding what forces are making
the systems operate, (4) noting the interactions between the system
and its environment, and (5) tracking changes to the system over
time. . . .

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Ravitch vs Gates or Research vs Billions

Diane Ravitch and Bill Gates are resonating and differing voices in education reform. The “Follow the money” phrase is typically associated with problems that need to be solved and/or corruption. The “research-based” phrase is typically associated with creating a steadfast stance in the status-quo. I prefer the “research-driven” phrase, which to me, implies that we understand the emerging knowledge gained from the accumulation of research and then take action based on that knowledge. Gates has money and I believe Ravitch is research-driven. If there is a fight, then my money is on Ravitch. She places context to research and doesn’t view difficulties as problems to be eliminated, but as opportunities for people to work together and reevaluate the emerging knowledge. Money talks, BS walks, and knowledge is power. As Diane Ravitch wrote: “If the super-rich take over public education, will they demand that all kids get the same quality of education as their own?” Go get ’em Diane!!

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Are Charters the Silver Bullet?

Those promoting the privatization of American public education are blinded by free-market ideology. They refuse to pay attention to evidence, whether it be research or the accumulating anecdotal evidence of misbehavior, incompetence, fraud, greed, and chicanery that the free market facilitates. Let us celebrate the few charter schools that get, as Davis Guggenheim puts it, “amazing results,” but let us recognize that they are not 17 percent of charters (the number in the CREDO study that outperformed traditional public schools). Doing better than an under-resourced neighborhood school is not the same as getting “amazing results.” Very few charters do. Probably less than 5 percent.

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Education Reform: Race to Nowhere

Director Vicki Abeles turns the personal political, igniting a national conversation in her new documentary about the pressures faced by American schoolchildren and their teachers in a system and culture obsessed with the illusion of achievement, competition and the pressure to perform. Featuring the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to …

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Learning and democracy at the forefront

Scant regard is given to key educational elements such as poverty, teacher professional development, dedicated collaboration time, student and teacher input to learning decisions, and especially local control. Despite the abundance of research, standardized test-scores are still the primary determinate of states, districts, schools, teachers, and students. We live in a world that requires creative, curious, problem-solving, critical thinkers yet, we continue to evaluate the teaching and development of limited memorization (and speed of response) skills. It will be a good day when we see learning and democracy at the forefront.

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The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman

A group of parents and educators with Grassroots Education Movement (GEMNYC) are responding to the “Waiting for Superman” film with a film of their own. They are the real reformers. As one patent activist says, “Are you waiting for Superman? YOU are the Real Heroes.” This is the trailer. The film is expected to be released in late October.

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School board president: Ed reformers ‘just don’t get it’

Charlotte Hummel is the president of the Board of School Directors of the William Penn School District in Pennsylvania, which serves approximately 5,500 students. She recently addressed the district’s professional staff with powerful remarks, which are unusual in that they are highly critical of education reformers. In this speech, she offers a different vision of […]

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