Contrary to Editor, Mary Anna Towler's, comment that in response to the latest low test-score fiasco, nothing new has been presented by the community on the "hard things" that need to be done, the Coalition for Justice in Education (CJE) has made several research-based, "hard proposals" to the Board of Education, which despite some Board support, have not moved forward. And, why not, given te lack of improvement based upon corporate and standardized test-based reforms over the last 15 years ? Consider the following CJE proposls:
- Given the link between low student academic engagement and the concentration of poverty, lobby the county, state and federal governments for redistribution of tax funding to lower poor, urban school student/teacher ratios to 12:1. (See Class Size research.)
- Again, given the concentration of poverty link to student engagement, lobby with county, state and federal governments for suburban district incentives to create metropolitan school districts, at which no school would have more than 40% of its students from poverty backgrounds. (See Wake County, NC, research.)
- Replicate schools based on the NYS Performance Standards Consortium model, of which Rochester's School Without Walls is a member. This Regents-approved alternative model, requires small school populations, a student-centered curriculum with standards that exceed the Regents and Common Core, performance-based assessment vs. high-stakes standardized tests, strong teacher training for inquiry-based teaching an democratic decision-making. (See Performance Standards Consortium research.)
- Focusing on personalized vs. standardized standards, thereby following the research tenants that honor individualized learning styles, student interest and needs, as well as the professional judgment of teachers. Students would also, no longer be compared to each other or to other school populations. (See Consortium and Eight Year Study research.)
These changes would not be easy to achieve, but would completely revolutionize the system, since corporate and political interests would no longer be driving education policy and practices.
Perhaps a first step for moving in this diection would be to vote for those BOE candidates in the September primary who would support these efforts, rather than "more-of-the-same." Who are they??
Dan Drmacich, Chairman
Coltion for Justice in Education, and
former School Without Walls Principal
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