Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jane Williams, host of Bloomberg EDU on Bloomberg Radio, together with Jennifer Berkshire, who is also known as Edushyster, an insightful education blogger and contributing writer to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Our segment, which featured us as two “new voices” covering education and the often misguided corporate education-reform movement, followed an edifying interview with the actor Mark Walhberg, who only just completed his high school education; Wahlberg discussed why his “biggest regret” was not completing his schooling earlier. Among Wahlberg’s more important observations was the role that sports and other extra-curriculars play in motivating kids and keeping them in school. (Wahlberg’s school had no sports and very limited non-academic programs, such as art and music.)
EduShyster and I, meanwhile, discussed school turnarounds-done-right, including those at traditional public schools like Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary School and Brockton High School in Massachusetts, neither of which have received as much attention as they deserve. (To see what I’ve written on Brockton, please see here and here and here. Here is Edushyster on Murkland.) EduShyster and I share an interest in how you change school culture organically, from the bottom up and the inside out. As EduShyster put it, “We’re interested in slower moving, deeper investments in the teachers and staff, versus turning the school upside down, shaking it and hoping for the best.”
We talked about how many of the most popular strategies that education reformers are using today—including canned curricula (an assembly-line approach to education), favoring inexperienced teachers (deskilling) and punitive performance appraisals instead of those that help teachers improve–were discredited in the business world years ago. And we discussed how the best examples of school transformation and improvement are driven by consistent leadership, a clear and coherent strategy and teamwork. These are the management lessons that education reformers should be learning. To hear more please click here.