Detailed notes on the Finnish schools and education system, from Ted Kolderie's visit to Finland August 20-24, 2012. Ted was part of an American delegation assembled by the National Public Education Support Fund. The meetings were arranged locally by Pasi Sahlberg from CIMO.
K-12 education exists in state law. It cannot be reached directly by Congressional or the President. Typically, in such policy areas, the national government tries to 'do things' by tying requirements to its grants-in-aid. This approach has failed in the past, as in the 1960s when the national government tried to take control of urban development.
We overestimate the ability of leadership to change organizations in more than incremental ways, Joe Graba told a national meeting of foundations in April 2004. The internal culture heavily constrains change. Most change comes through the creation of new organizations.
Pasi Sahlberg had a day of conversations with Minnesotans on July 19, 2012 about the schools in Finland. An official in the Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki, Sahlberg is probably the person most involved with explaining to countries around the world about the education system that Finland developed beginning about 1970.
In this 1991 retrospective, Albert Shanker looks back over 40 years in the profession. He is realistic about the union's conventional strategy of higher salaries and smaller class size. He looks toward others strategies: differentiated staffing, the individualization of learning through technology, project-based learning, and performance-based assessment.
Clayton Christensen explains how hard it is for existing organizations to change in more than incremental ways, and why significant change requires the creation of new organizations. His research has huge implications for a K-12 strategy that relies on the notion that it will be possible to improve the schools we have.
It's time to bury the term 'charter schools' and to talk separately about chartering—the state strategy of new-school-creation—and the schools created via chartering. Chartering is succeeding even though not all the schools-chartered are succeeding. Article appeared in the December 2005 issue of UrbanEd.
Opponents of change commonly try to set a test of perfection. They try to persuade everyone that no change can be permitted unless it solves all present problems and creates no new problems. Opponents don’t even have to prove the proposed change harmful. It's enough just to spread fear and doubt, asking endlessly: What if?
System-level reforms like standards, accountability, choice and chartering make it more necessary for schools to succeed with learning. But these reforms do not by themselves affect achievement. Kids learn from what they read, see, hear and do. So success in the effort at improvement requires capitalizing now on the system-level changes with a major effort to create new forms of school.
Notes from remarks by Paul Grogan, head in 20008 of the Boston Foundation, on the challenges of inner-city public education, and how foundations can leverage change. Early, Grogan worked for two mayors of Boston. He ran the national office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in New York.
The country has the governmental relationships upside down, with the states setting the targets for results and Washington leaning on the states, districts and schools to make it happen. President Obama should put the roles right, so that the national government is "pushing buttons that are connected to live wires".
The charge to K-12 has shifted from "access" to "achievement." To meet this challenge, education should be open to new entrants, new authorizers of schools, and new learning programs. This paper argues for teacher-led and other innovations to better serve student needs.
The assignment to K-12 has changed from "access" to "achievement." Unfortunately, our schools were built to provide students the opportunity to learn, not to ensure that they did. If we insist that our schools do this different job we will have to create new school models that make that possible.
The current national strategy assumes the problem is a 'performance' problem, and looked to a new framework of accountability to get the current system and schools to do-better. But it might be that the problem is a 'design' problem and that both the institution and the traditional concept of 'school' need fundamental change.
In response to the Washington Post’s question about problems in DC this small memo asked: If the local school district is not performing why don’t DC residents ask Congress to “get somebody else who will?” In 1993 the suggestion was flatly dismissed. Three years later Congress created a second 'board of education' for DC.
Institutions other than public education have found it useful not to let the mission depend on just a single organization. Historically the Catholic Church has been one of these. There is the hierarchy, but there are also the orders.
Some national organizations that find good schools a way to further their own mission are now moving to create—and support—new schools in the charter sector. The National Council of La Raza is one example. This can be done in some states through sponsoring (authorizing). Elsewhere it can take the form of partnerships.
This first chapter of Ted Kolderie's book Creating the Capacity for Change expands the 'theory of action' for state policy leadership. It explains why governors' and legislatures' efforts to open a new-schools sector is imperative for public education, to enable it to do the job it has now been given to do.