Blog posts from August 2010

August 30, 2010

The senior vice president of retail for Apple Computer Ron Johnson recently described to the Civic Caucus, a Minnesota policy group, how Apple successfully brings thousands of customers each year from inexperience to proficiency with their software, for a relatively small cost.

In the One-to-One program, for one hundred dollars per year customers get one hour per week with a Mac...

August 27, 2010

Editor’s note: Each Friday we feature guest bloggers that are involved in rethinking what is possible with schooling and the education system.

Laura Weeldreyer is deputy chief of staff for the Superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools. In this guest post, pushing against a recent report from the Fordham Foundation, Weeldreyer describes the reasoning behind that district’s move to create conditions inside the district that provide more autonomy to innovative schools and...

August 26, 2010

Here’s another good opportunity for school entrepreneurs:

The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based incubator program for individuals with visions to remake schooling. They award competitive fellowships to help individuals with ideas and the talent to develop their ideas and bring them to reality.

Those selected for fellowships receive a full salary for two years and a stipend for the start-up phase...

August 25, 2010

How does change happen in a large system?

Michael Lind wrote in the Washington Post last month that comprehensive reform is overrated. In it he talks about the tendency of D.C. policy makers toward large, grand many-step plans in health care, financial reform, and energy legislation—when instead the right approach may instead be much less heavy, and more strategic.

The root of his argument is that large systems are complex, and their behavior is the result of...

August 23, 2010

Research shows that as teachers are given greater control over their work, job satisfaction increases. See this stunning graphic on the effects of teacher control on turnover, by Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania:

See a full sized version of the graph here.

In his 2003 book Who Controls Teachers' Work?, Ingersoll found that as teachers are given greater control over their work...

August 20, 2010

In this video Linda Peters, a lead teacher at the Advanced Language and Academic Studies (ALAS) bilingual high school in Milwaukee, describes how the school makes management and finance decisions by including teachers.

ALAS has been able to function as a school run collectively by teachers, because the Milwaukee school district and the local union agreed to grant the...

August 18, 2010

Instead of asking what technologies work, and how can they be scaled up, ask: What conditions make it most likely that teachers will be motivated (and able) to take up new technologies to make learning more productive?

We came across an article recently about the introduction of new technologies into the work place, to improve the scope and quality of products; to assist workers; and to automate certain tasks. In this article the unions, understandably, are concerned with how changes affect their members. ‘Don’t make these changes willy-nilly,’ they seem to say, arguing for a voice...

August 16, 2010

A senior administrator from a major public university said recently, about technology, “We could say we use technology, that it’s in all our classrooms and labs—we spend enormously on IT—but really it’s not an effective improvement.”

He was alluding to a point that there really are two fundamentally different ways of applying technology. The first is in support of existing practice—animating lectures, facilitating communication, expediting grading. This helps, and can improve processes. Often, however, it adds cost without a discernable increase in performance.

The second way...

August 13, 2010

Editor’s note: Each Friday we feature guest bloggers that are involved in rethinking what is possible with schooling and the education system.

The schooling system of the United States needs to live within its means—now more than ever. To contain growing costs and to be effective with less money, schools need new, more insightful ways to allocate resources. One way is to withdraw the exclusive on who controls the resource allocations.

In this post Jim Wartman, an advisor (teacher) at Minnesota New Country School, describes how teacher-control...

August 11, 2010

In this budget climate the four-day school week is hot. California’s trying it. Some districts in Georgia and Hawaii have gone to four-day weeks. And as...