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March 25, 2008
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Updates and Insights from Education|Evolving
Vol. 4, No. 2March 25, 2008Jon Schroeder, Editor

IN THIS ISSUE:

Want to think creatively and deeply about redirecting K-12 policy toward innovation?

Your chance to both think and act will be at www.edweek-chat.org tomorrow, Wed. March 26, 2:00pm EDT.

Please join Education|Evolving co-founder Ted Kolderie for an online discussion, organized by Education Week, on "The Other Half of the Strategy: Following Up on System Reform by Innovating with School and Schooling". You may submit questions today for Wednesday’s chat here: www.edweek-chat.org. Or, go to the EdWeek chat site during the hour-long forum and participate--or just "lurk"--in "live-time."

In this most recent E|E paper, Kolderie asserts: The system reforms taking place make improvement increasingly necessary; make change increasingly possible. But they are only half the strategy. To meet its goals this country must next undertake a serious effort to develop new forms of school and schooling. It is time, Education|Evolving argues, to redirect K-12 policy toward innovation. "The Other Half of the Strategy" also suggests how to approach this redirection, outlining barriers to innovation and ways to overcome them. For a summary of the paper’s main ideas click here.

Education|Evolving has also begun to catalogue and explain some of the innovations now appearing as part of "the other half of the strategy"

... in its new publication, "Innovations in School and School|ing: Minnesota's charter law is producing significant innovations through both new schools and school/ing."

Minnesota's charter law, enacted in 1991, was one of three "institutional innovations" that radically changed the traditional givens of K-12. These innovations laid the groundwork for "the other half of the strategy" focused on today, involving:

  • Innovations with the organizational form of 'school' (such as the size, and the professional role of teachers in the school), and
  • Innovations with the learning activity--what students and teachers do--i.e.: 'Schooling.' 'Schooling' innovations are changing the role of the student and also have to do with the role of the rapidly-developing digital electronic technology.

In Minnesota, the charter law was intended to create a new sector of public education that was to operate as a research-and-development program. The idea was for people to create new and different kinds of schools. There was a hope, and a real expectation, that some significant innovation would appear: new forms of school, new approaches to assessment, and new roles for teachers.

Yet far too many researchers and journalists have not been interested in whether chartering is producing these innovations. They seem focused instead on questions like: How many chartered schools are being created? What are the number and demographics of the students enrolled? On average, how are those students performing on standardized tests?

While recognizing that innovation occurs in districts, in all kinds of schools and in individual classrooms, E|E Associate Sarah Granofsky uses this E|E report to begin to demonstrate how anyone interested in whether the system reforms are working might approach their evaluation--by documenting innovations in 'school' and 'schooling'. E|E Co-founder Ted Kolderie authored the report's introduction and provided guidance on the project. To download the full report, click here.

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