Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Strickland's Education Forum Coming to Akron

Governor Ted Strickland has announced that one of his twelve planned "education forums" will be in Akron at North High School on July 23. The Governor has started a website, Conversations on Education to facilitate/publicize the listening tour. The url embedded on Ohio dot com doesn't seem to work for the website. You can try here or here.

The Governor has gotten grief for not fixing either the schools themselves or the school funding mess as of yet. It always seemed to me that any proposal would come after the midterm elections. First, because such a proposal takes time. The Governor committed to getting input, particularly from the business community. Being pretty much a pro-business D, that's what he would have done anyway, plus anyone paying attention to the GIRFOF mess knows that the effort was doomed as soon as the business community spoke out against it.

Also, any proposal prior to midterms becomes a political football. The R's would have to oppose it regardless of merit or risk handing the statehouse over to the D's. Which brings up the third factor -- once it became apparent that generic D's would do well in the midterm, Strickland's best bet is to wait until the November smoke clears to see what kind of General Assembly he has to work with. If, as hoped, D's take the House, he will get much more of what he wants.

I've had background conversations with various sources that pretty much confirm the above. And it's pretty well known that Strickland has been meeting with various stakeholder groups, including business groups.

The forums are another step in the process. How much will be gathering input and how much will be softening the ground for the eventual proposal remains to be seen. According to the website, things are organized around the six principles outlined in the State of the State address. You remember those, right? No? Well, here's a refresher:

    And I have developed six core principles that will guide our efforts to achieve that vision.

    First, we cannot address our education challenges without strengthening our commitment to public education. As a practical matter, the vast majority of Ohio children are and always will be educated in the public school system.

    Second, a modern education must be directly linked to economic prosperity. Ohio cannot thrive without understanding that world class schools will produce a talented workforce, and a talented workforce will attract and create jobs.

    Third, we need to identify the great strengths of our schools. There are features in our education system that the rest of the world seeks to emulate, and we must build on these triumphs.

    We excel internationally in our ability to foster creativity and innovation. These skills fuel a lifetime of success, especially in an evolving global economy.

    Ohio schools produced the minds that created Superman, with his fictional X-Ray vision, and the mind that invented the MRI, giving doctors the very real ability to painlessly view inside the human body. Ohioans are visionaries, but practical as well. It wasn’t long after a pair of Ohioans invented the airplane that another Ohioan invented the parachute.

    Our schools must teach students to think past the limits of what’s been done, and imagine what could be done.

    Fourth, our best teachers can show us what works best in the classroom. We need to consult them and follow their lead.

    Great teachers can be a resource not only for their students but for their fellow educators. We should support these teachers by giving them the freedom to stay in the classroom and still be rewarded for sharing their expertise with their peers. We lose a lot of new teachers – as many as half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years – but we can help keep these talented people by giving them better access to senior colleagues.

    Fifth, we must strive to develop a specific, personalized education program that identifies how each individual student learns and use the teaching methods appropriate to that student’s needs and abilities.

    The great educator and philosopher John Dewey described this idea many years ago. He wrote that we must shift “the center of gravity” in schools. It’s a “revolution, not unlike that introduced by Copernicus when the astronomical center shifted from the Earth to the sun. In this case, the child becomes the sun around which the appliances of education revolve.”

    And sixth, testing and assessment will continue to answer accountability questions. But their most important role will be to guide personalized and individualized education through a comprehensive and ongoing understanding of a student’s capabilities and weaknesses and growth in the educational process.

Not the list I would pick, but good enough to be going forward.


Sheila said...

Thanks for the refresher. Saw the meeting info in today's BJ and I plan to attend.

Eric said...

Always good to know that the Governor is NEA-approved (just like the former Attorney General):

The state of Ohio is engaged in a promising "Transformational Dialogue for Public Education Initiative." This aims to realize systemic change in public education that will transform the public school system into a robust knowledge-era model able to meet the demands of modern society.

A group of 13 education leaders have joined into a "Dialogue Nucleus Group" in order to clearly articulate the core purpose and core values that define public education and identify operating principles that will govern their working relationship. These leaders comprise key decision makers, including the Office of the Governor, the Chief State School Officer, the Board of Regents, and representatives from the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

The group will explore how to best address student needs and enhance local capacity, for example, by investing in curriculum and assessment systems that focus on higher-order skills and in teacher preparation and retention initiatives. The group will engage school communities in a dialogue about common purpose. These state leaders aim to work with people at the school level to envision, strategize, and implement their highest aspirations.

The group will collaborate on designing a new system and then focus on implementing, testing, and validating it and ultimately create sustaining structures. This serves as a model of shared responsibility for a student-centered approach to school improvement, transcending the outdated top-down model.

NEA is committed to expanding this transformation dialogue to all 50 states.

Eric said...

Here is how Ohio Administrative Code (effective 2001) addresses Governor Strickland's Core Principles:

Strengthen our commitment to public education and link it to economic prosperity
Schools are already required to "assure that the mission and educational goals of the school district or school reflect the educational needs identified by a broad representation of stakeholders" (OAC 3301-35-02 Governance and Organizational Leadership). Is something more required, or are schools falling short of existing expectations?

Identify the great strengths of our schools and leverage our best teachers to show us what works best in the classroom
Schools are already required to "evaluate and compare their performance levels with similar schools and districts, benchmarks and generally accepted best practices. The district or school shall use the comparative information and data to promote innovation, improve instruction and learning, improve district and school performance, and set higher goals for future achievement" (OAC 3301-35-07 Using Data to Improve Performance Results). Schools are also required to "determine the amount and nature of faculty and staff professional development necessary to implement the district's mission and strategic plan." (3301-35-05 Faculty and Staff Focus). Again, is something more required, or are schools falling short of existing expectations?

Personalized education guided by testing and assessment
Schools are already required to provide education "appropriate for the student's age and ability level, and that reflect the mission and strategic plan of the district and school" (OAC 3301-35-06 Educational Programs and Support). Spending state funds on superfluous individualization is inconsistent with providing a "thorough and efficient system of common schools." Moreover, Ohio is committed to value-added student assessment; which specific individualization regimes can demonstrate value-added growth?

Eric said...

The Governor took an education question at the city Club of Cleveland; here's what I could catch:

Develop consensus otherwise get nowhere
Reform education rather completely; think new thoughts

individualized; focused on needs;
not treating all students as part of a large group that has similar needs similar abilities

Holding meetings throughout Ohio; hold discussion
How to reform; how to fund

... stay tuned
the future of our state depends on our success

The Governor appears to be getting advice that is tragically flawed. Apparently, his group of 13 are attempting to build a political consensus in support of the old "market basket" approach, including reruns of the October 28, 1998 Ohio Educational Congress (the regional "conversations"). Governor Strickland is certainly capable of milking this for political gain, but I suspect his advisors appear to be so out of touch they don't have an accurate handle on legal status: They may have won DeRolph lawsuits, but they've not made carefully use of the majority decisions.

mousami said...

Governor Ted Strickland's education forums in the Akron is going to be a innovative one. And the six core principles designed by him is also essential for the success of the forums.


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