Posting 11/23/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Blogging for Real Reform

Today is the day of “Blogging for Real Reform” and I’m whetting my appetite by reading Ira Socol’s post “Changing the Structure: Blogging for Real Reform” and Greta Sandler’s “Education Needs Reflective Educators “.I’m looking forward to reading others thoughts on this day. It’s interesting to read such innovative ideas as they come forth.

As I blog this, I have the news on television and the top story is about the airport searching controversy that leads the news everywhere.

The common theme? Both are run from the top down by a government structure. As such, real and significant change is very difficult to effect. Often, your best bet is to find a friend with a mindset that’s coherent with yours and this person is also running for office and willing to do something significant when they get there. Whew!

Significant structural change is difficult. After all, drive by any community school, stop, and take a good look at it. It’s probably the most solid structure in the community, has been around for many years, has all of the accommodations and tools needed for student use, has at least one gymnasium, and great internet access. All of this, and it’s used for 6-7 hours a day. Could you imagine the benefit to the community if these resources were made available for other purposes? After all, we’re paying for it.

Where else would you pay for duplication of services? You might have a gym membership at the local club plus you’re paying for the school facilities. You’re paying for home internet plus you’re paying for school internet. You’re paying for cable television services for both at home and at school. There’s so much that you’re buying twice. But, we do it, because we have to do it. It’s legislated. But, could you imagine a world where we open up these structures to any time community use? I remember my university days where things were truly 24/7. I remember struggling with algorithms at 3 in the morning while the floor polishers were doing their thing in the background.  I was motivated – the resources were there – I took advantage of them.

I also can’t help but think of the good things that might happen by getting community members inside the school on a regular basis.  Instead of being an armchair critic from at home, could we turn everyone into a partner with a vested interest in improvement?

But, rather than focus on these big issues, I’d just like to throw my support to the teachers who work day after day to the benefit of students. These are the most relevant part of the conversation.  While systemic change may take years to reform, individual classrooms can change almost overnight.  These teachers work so hard and so passionately to help students achieve. All of this, typically, despite all of the other stuff that’s laid on them.

I’d like to offer two posts from this blog as my contribution and a tribute to where true change will take place – in the classroom at the hands of skilled educators. I recognize fully that these are technical solutions but that’s where I come from and I make no apologies for it. The power of engaging students in education turbo charged by appropriate use of technology is no small thing.

My best to those who are blogging about this topic today and especially to those who are reading the posts and thoughtfully making change where they can and where they perceive the need.