Pure Serendipity: Thinking Outside the Box

outside the boxReading Freakonomics (by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner) was supposed to be a lark for me.  You know, perusing fun ideas. There are certainly some of those.  Who would believe, however, that the book was full of information about educational reform!  Now the title of the book really makes me smile.

Some interesting data about Chicago schools may explain U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s thinking.  For some students, there really is a problem that no one can solve alone, and it is the culture of some schools that inhibits learning.  Is it better to help a few to leave a bad situation than to do nothing?  Or, do you take on the whole problem knowing you do not have the resources and capability to solve it?  People will be hurt; children will be lost either way.  What would you do?  Leavitt’s data makes you think out of the box.

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Which are the Elephants in the Room?


I read ‘The Man Behind Common Core Math‘ twice.  It is personal, candid, and gives a different perspective  of Common Core (CC).  Part of CCs development  was a happy accident.  Other parts had  unhappy consequences that must be addressed.  Motives and methods of for-profit testing companies are questioned.

Which are the elephants in the room, the Standards;  the Tests;  the power brokers’ funding, or the passing rates?  Let’s consider which of these babies we should throw out with the bath water.  You will find some useful sources and some interesting ideas.


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Evidence that Some Programs Really Do Work

new-years-eve-2015-583216_1280Here is a nice way to start the New Year!  We have all wondered whether we throw good money after bad in desperate attempts to make life better.  Ron Haskins, in today’s New York Times laments this tendency.  But, he goes past the woe to describe social programs that have rigorous evaluations and really do work.  There is hope for our educational system.  There are specific programs that have genuinely positive impacts.

How many of these effective programs are in your schools and communities?  How can you know?  Click to see ones that do work.

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Are KIPP Charters the Answer? Depends upon the question…


KIPP is reputed to be one of the most successful charter chains.  It serves low income minority students. U.S. DOE Secretary Duncan has praised KIPP charters.  Gary Chartrand, the Chair of the Florida Board of Education promotes them.  It has a ‘no excuses’ policy for behavior as well as high academic expectations for all students. Is KIPP success hype or real?  There are some things we need to know; let’s not make hasty judgments.  Read about their results.

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