Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vision 2020 Right for Caddo

Dr. Gerald Dawkins has demonstrated significant courage and wisdom in pushing forward with his bold plan for the Caddo school system. This strategy seeks to right size the district and therefore make better use of all district resources.

Better resource deployment means an overall better opportunity for Caddo students to excel.

Change is always hard and significant change is only that much harder. I have long since given up on buildings in favor of people. The right decision is the one that favors people. In this case, the people most important in the calculation are the students themselves.

Calls for more time to study the plan and its implications were without merit. They demonstrated the usual paralyzing fear of the unknown.

As one board member astutely noted, if some elements of the plan are wrong, then admit the error and change it.

Congratulations to Dr. Dawkins for standing on his convictions in the face of an orchestrated community onslaught. Of course it is not over yet. Those who oppose change will  not go away quietly. They never do.

But this important victory is a critical first step of a journey in the right direction. 


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Diane Ravitch - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 03/03/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central

 There is currently an education war going on in this country. I would suggest that education historian Diane Ravich and former D.C. school chief, Michelle Rhee represent the opposing sides.(Pictured above are Diane Ravich and Michelle Rhee)

Dr. Ravich , and her supporters, argue that POVERTY is essentially the raw education/achievement issue of the day. This line of argument carries with it the explanation of low test scores being most associated with and/or caused by POVERTY and/or RACIAL ISOLATION.

A March 2, 2011 Education Week commentary by author Richard Whitmire makes the following points about Rhee.

"Rhee raises existential threats not presented by voucher conservatives.  Rhee wants to curb teacher tenure; overturn "last hired, first fired" layoff policies; and impose teacher evaluations with teeth.  Most important, these are not just think-tanky proposals.  Rhee actually did all these things in Washington."

"The real nut of this is the threat to the pride of thousands of teachers, especially those in low-performing school districts.  For years, they have argued that poverty and single-parent families explain the low performance of their students.  Rhee is saying maybe, maybe not."

For the black community, it is critical for us to understand these arguments and listen carefully. We can not allow our children to become even more of an educational casualty as this debate rages.

My view is that neither side is all right or all wrong. And, if the volume could be reduced and everyone pull back for a breather, perhaps some resolution of the positions would emerge that would benefit all children. However, I don't look for that to happen anytime soon.

Click on the link below to view Dr. Ravich state her position.

Diane Ravitch - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 03/03/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central

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