Patrick Atwater

Patrick Atwater

I recently took part in an experimental NextGen startup weekend aimed at designing a new model of schools. The participants worked in teams to come up with structural innovations to move schools beyond our current factory-like structure. A few of us, though, chewed on a nagging question throughout the weekend: All this talk of innovation sounded great, but what about schools that aren’t charters with direct access to Silicon Valley?

Imagine a regular public school district that’s intrigued by this potential but is a bit overwhelmed by all the talk of “blended learning,” “synchronous feedback loops” and other fancy phrases. Maybe they’ve seen a few of creativity expert Ken Robinson’s TED Talks on Changing Education Paradigms or been fascinated by the potential of technology in education or just generally frustrated with our existing one-size-fits-all model.

So what if we placed small teams of Silicon Valley-caliber talent in school districts to support their innovations? Call it the “NextGen Schools Fellowship” after the weekend, and recruit interdisciplinary teams of teachers, analysts, designers, engineers and other ridiculously talented folks around the stated goal of catalyzing the creation of new school models.

Consider a few ideas that bubbled up over the weekend that might make sense in a given school or district:

  • What if middle and high school classes started at 10 instead of 8 to reflect adolescents’ biorhythms?  Extracurricular activities could go before, rather than after, school to fit with parents’ work schedules.
  • What if class sizes varied dramatically? Imagine large 100+ person lectures for part of the day, freeing up teachers to hold small, intimate seminars with fewer than 12 students at other times.
  • What if school didn’t mean sitting inside a building? Team Magic School Bus had the fun idea of turning school into a set of buses that would take students on explorations into the community.
  • What if we brought the community to school? The third-place team had the creative idea of mixing a school site with a tech co-working space so students could organically learn from the professionals around them. Yet the basic model of opening schools for longer hours and creating purposeful opportunities for the neighborhood to spend time there extends well beyond tech startups.
  • What if we created formal pathways for guest teachers? Just like we have guest lectures in colleges by practitioners from the field, imagine someone like Father Greg Boyle from Homeboy Industries teaching a class, say once a week.
  • What if we made it OK to have a gap year during high school? Imagine a program to place disillusioned students in internships for a year to give them the opportunity to gain practical experience and explore what they want to get out of school.
  • What if school was epic? The winning team crafted a rich narrative for a middle school that assigned the students to Hogwarts-style houses. Imagine if we ingrained those points about identity and the power of story across a district.
  • What if students decided what their school day looks like? A college-bound senior graduating from a public high school in California goes from a world in which they have 30 hours of instruction at rigid times to a world where they have 12 hours of instruction with large amounts of latitude when that occurs — all in the matter of months.

Many of these ideas are not new. The value comes from providing an integrated perspective for how these sorts of structures might reflect the local needs of a district or school. Like Silicon Valley, the talent would be recruited globally and placed in a specific district to support their unique needs and desire for innovation.

More broadly, these “what if” ideas by and large don’t require extra resources (and may actually save some) but rather repurpose existing resources according to the new structures. The big barrier is in the transition, which is where the NextGen School Fellows come in. To use a chemistry analogy, the fellows provide the activation energy needed to catalyze the reaction.

Moreover, having talented innovators work with those local constraints has the potential to be transformative because those are the barriers any structural innovation faces in reaching the vast swath of public schools.

The basic premise of the fellowship would be to place interdisciplinary teams at districts interested in structural innovation for one year. In broad strokes, during the spring they would listen, learn and engage the local community. Over the summer the team would work with the district to implement the structural innovation. And then, in the fall, they ensure it sticks and work to spin off a local community support nonprofit like the Los Angeles Education Partnership to keep the momentum going.

In addition to the fellows, the nonprofit would have a hub of analytical support to evaluate the innovations and share best practices with other districts interested in innovation.

The model is simple, straightforward and proven. Code for America does something very similar with technologists and cities. Their funding structure relies on payments from cities for the fellows’ services and then donor support to cover other expenses.

The key difference here from existing education fellowships like Education Pioneers is the focus on innovating new school models rather than improving an existing model. And while there exist consulting firms that will bring their model into your classroom, school or district, many districts probably already have some ideas and programs in place and want to build from their unique situation rather than just implement someone else’s model.

There’s broad recognition that schools need to adapt to the world we live in. Yet if we’re going to move away from a one-size-fits-all model, our solution cannot be one-size-fits-all either. Each school district needs its own unique bridge to the possibility of school innovation. The NextGen Schools Fellows can catalyze the construction of those bridges.

•••

Patrick Atwater is co-founder of Stag Hunt Enterprises, a publishing startup pioneering political economy insights. He serves on the board of the Los Angeles Education Partnership and as a mentor in College Bound.

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  1. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    I referred to the fact that due to many complexities there are socioeconomic differences between racial subgroups from district to district. (For example: If you Google, you can readily find news reports and other discussion about the loss of the black middle class from SF, leaving largely the very low-income.) That's why SES is arguably a more valid measure, though it's broad in a different way. I'm not in a position to discuss the rationale for SFUSD's … Read More

    I referred to the fact that due to many complexities there are socioeconomic differences between racial subgroups from district to district. (For example: If you Google, you can readily find news reports and other discussion about the loss of the black middle class from SF, leaving largely the very low-income.)

    That’s why SES is arguably a more valid measure, though it’s broad in a different way.

    I’m not in a position to discuss the rationale for SFUSD’s use of TFA teachers (which as I understand it is pretty limited). I can just tell you that the district is NOT having trouble recruiting and that experienced teachers are knocking on the door in the hope of being hired and being turned away. That’s clear to anyone familiar with the district, so I think it’s important to correct misinformation. Reports promoting misinformation are unfortunately common.

    Paul M., as I say, SJUSD is just one of the school districts encompassed within the city of San Jose, so you would have to track them all down and I guess average their APIs to have a valid comparison with other urban districts.

  2. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    Yes, I know API doesn't tell the whole story, Paul, but it's the main measure we use. I see you looked for a different one so you can characterize the district negatively. What I said about the achievement gap applies to comparisons of demographic subgroups district to district: It’s about demographics, housing and mobility patterns of different groups (often due to cost of living). The API does allow us to compare low-income students district to district, … Read More

    Yes, I know API doesn’t tell the whole story, Paul, but it’s the main measure we use. I see you looked for a different one so you can characterize the district negatively.

    What I said about the achievement gap applies to comparisons of demographic subgroups district to district: It’s about demographics, housing and mobility patterns of different groups (often due to cost of living). The API does allow us to compare low-income students district to district, obviously.

    Also, by the way, I can tell you that it is really, really hard for job-seeking teachers to get a job interview in SFUSD. I can’t speak to the efficacy of the Human Resources Department, but other than that I’m familiar with the district and the situation, and the notion that SFUSD is having trouble recruiting qualified teachers is simply not valid.

    Replies

    • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

      AYP, which I was referring to, is a pretty standard measure. I looked at results for racial subgroups such as African Americans and Latinos, not only for the socio-economically disadvantaged umbrella group. Are we to assume, given San Francisco Unified's use of Teach for America teachers (holders of intern credentials, rather than preliminary or clear credentials) -- in Superintendent's Zone schools (the district's lowest-performing schools, so grouped because the district has acknowledged the magnitude of its … Read More

      AYP, which I was referring to, is a pretty standard measure. I looked at results for racial subgroups such as African Americans and Latinos, not only for the socio-economically disadvantaged umbrella group.

      Are we to assume, given San Francisco Unified’s use of Teach for America teachers (holders of intern credentials, rather than preliminary or clear credentials) — in Superintendent’s Zone schools (the district’s lowest-performing schools, so grouped because the district has acknowledged the magnitude of its achievement gap) no less — that San Francisco Unified is violating the legal hiring priority? If not, then it is a factual matter that SFUSD is (still) having trouble recruiting teachers.

  3. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    Oops! Forgot Oakland! It goes just above Fresno:

    API 728
    SED students 691

    Re San Jose, the fact that it’s broken into smaller districts confounds the ability to compare by this simplistic method, so it simply can’t be done.

    Replies

    • Paul Muench 6 years ago6 years ago

      Technically I tnink you are correct, but maybe that's just a sign that SJUSD is beating the odds. US census data says that 11% of San Jose residents live below the povery level. School data says about 47% of students are SED. I'm making a leap of faith that means that SJUSD is serving a disproprtionate share of SED students for San Jose. And the disrict wide API for SJUSD is … Read More

      Technically I tnink you are correct, but maybe that’s just a sign that SJUSD is beating the odds. US census data says that 11% of San Jose residents live below the povery level. School data says about 47% of students are SED. I’m making a leap of faith that means that SJUSD is serving a disproprtionate share of SED students for San Jose. And the disrict wide API for SJUSD is 805 for the relevant time period.

  4. Liam 6 years ago6 years ago

    Oh boy. I was this guy. Fortunate to do well in high tech at a very young age, I -- and a number of others in my circumstance -- enrolled our kids in our neighborhood school and dove in with our great ideas ("if only you would...") and our substantial Mr. Mom time on our hands. What I learned once I could see past my own "talent" was that the people teaching and leading … Read More

    Oh boy. I was this guy. Fortunate to do well in high tech at a very young age, I — and a number of others in my circumstance — enrolled our kids in our neighborhood school and dove in with our great ideas (“if only you would…”) and our substantial Mr. Mom time on our hands. What I learned once I could see past my own “talent” was that the people teaching and leading in my community’s schools had tremendous skill and great ideas of their own. What they lacked were not only the resources, as el points out, but the flexibility to implement.

    We learned pretty quickly to listen. The professionals in our schools are creative and when asked, had no shortage of ideas they wanted to try. So instead of our original arrogance in assuming that none of them had the ability to brainstorm or get all wild and crazy with the idea generating, we matched our resources, time and enthusiasm with their vision and to this day, we continue to get a lot done. Our greatest constraints are finding sustained funds (so we passed parcel taxes, but still we struggle in our low income town) and the punitive regulatory climate that plagues the non-charter schools (so we formed a team to support our legislators. “Instructional minutes” anyone?).

    Patrick, you cite Code America. One difference with Code America is that they come in and listen first. They provide the resources to help cities address challenges that the cities themselves identify. In your model, you presume that your ridiculously talented Silicon Valley dilettante fellows have the corner on the innovative thinking. In my humbling, and ultimately very successful, experience we learned otherwise.

    Funny timing this story — I’m off to go beg for money to fund the transportation for the incredible, creative experiences we have planned for our school kids.

  5. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    Oh, and San Jose is broken into a bunch of smaller districts, so that’s not included on the list. San Jose Unified is not a proxy for the schools in the city of San Jose.

  6. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    Sorry, totally off topic here... OK, I took 7 minutes to do a very quick job. I'm using 2012 base API districtwide and for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. SFUSD does do well. This is honestly about demographics, so I'm not saying we have superior anything, in most areas. Also with the disclaimer that I'm not a fan of rating schools, humans or anything else based on test scores. San Diego Unified API 808 SED students' API 757 SFUSD API 807 SED … Read More

    Sorry, totally off topic here…

    OK, I took 7 minutes to do a very quick job. I’m using 2012 base API districtwide and for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. SFUSD does do well. This is honestly about demographics, so I’m not saying we have superior anything, in most areas. Also with the disclaimer that I’m not a fan of rating schools, humans or anything else based on test scores.

    San Diego Unified API 808
    SED students’ API 757

    SFUSD API 807
    SED students’ API 766

    SDUSD and SFUSD are the only urban districts with a districtwide API over 800, which is considered the mark of excellence.

    Long Beach Unified API 784
    SED students’ API 749
    (I seem to recall that LBUSD is currently being hailed as a success — I’m hazy on details)

    Sacramento City Unified API 770
    SED students’ API 740

    Santa Ana Unified API 755
    SED students’ API 749

    LAUSD API 746
    SED students’ API 728

    Fresno API 726
    SED students’ API 712

    SF as a community is pretty supportive of its public schools and has passed school bonds even when the requirement was 66.6%, plus parcel taxes and a measure directing city dollars to fund school programs. I think other urban districts may not enjoy that level of support. So that’s a difference. Otherwise, it really is about demographics.

    Same with the district’s fierce achievement gap — it’s about demographics, housing and mobility patterns of different groups (often due to cost of living), not behavior by the district.

    Replies

    • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

      Hello again, CarolineSF. I was actually looking a little deeper than the district-wide API number. I used the Ed-Data "Tests" tab, at the district level, to view AYP per cent proficient by subgroup. If you do this for SFUSD, you'll notice that the district was far, far below the targets for most subgroups. OUSD and SFUSD look pretty similar in this view, with OUSD ahead in some categories, SFUSD in others. So that we don't get completely … Read More

      Hello again, CarolineSF.

      I was actually looking a little deeper than the district-wide API number. I used the Ed-Data “Tests” tab, at the district level, to view AYP per cent proficient by subgroup. If you do this for SFUSD, you’ll notice that the district was far, far below the targets for most subgroups. OUSD and SFUSD look pretty similar in this view, with OUSD ahead in some categories, SFUSD in others.

      So that we don’t get completely off-topic, my point was that school districts have trouble recruiting talent. I used SFUSD as an example, as the New Teacher Project had studied its HR practices and found that the best-educated candidates were simply going elsewhere (for various reasons).

      I posited that districts with low-performing schools are especially in need of talent. I said of San Francisco, “Here we have an example of a school district with … large numbers of low-performing schools.” This is borne out by the district’s own press release, which says, “44 percent (45/102) of the schools ranked in the below average category, the lowest 40 percent of the state, with a statewide ranking of 1 through 4. There were 19 schools in the bottom 10 percent of the statewide ranking system with a rank of 1.”

      The whole point of the exercise was to say that it’s good to have external innovators at the table when you have such a mess, though they shouldn’t just be voices from Silicon Valley, and some people from the district school word should be included.

    • Richard Moore (@infosherpa) 6 years ago6 years ago

      San Francisco and Long Beach both have outstanding school libraries — staffed with school librarians….just sayin’.

      Patrick — it would do you good to wander down those foothills to the local public school and ask if you could visit their library. Ask who runs the place. Talk to them. Ask them what they do. Let us know what you find out.

      • Richard Moore (@infosherpa) 6 years ago6 years ago

        By the way — LAUSD is the place where they put their librarians on “trial” where they had to prove they were teachers — in a basement downtown — or they would lose their jobs.

  7. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    My personal experience actually has no bearing -- I just included it for disclosure purposes. I'm just talking about the numbers. I hope someone who has more free time than I do will make a comparison to the state's other high-poverty urban districts. Last time I did that, SFUSD was doing very well, and improving. Not having the wherewithal to do that right now, I won't dispute this claim: "SFUSD performs at the level of … Read More

    My personal experience actually has no bearing — I just included it for disclosure purposes. I’m just talking about the numbers.

    I hope someone who has more free time than I do will make a comparison to the state’s other high-poverty urban districts. Last time I did that, SFUSD was doing very well, and improving. Not having the wherewithal to do that right now, I won’t dispute this claim: “SFUSD performs at the level of other urban districts,” but I won’t accept it without backup, and no one else should either.

    Yes, SFUSD lags behind wealthier suburban districts, because academic achievement directly correlates with socioeconomic status. That’s a given in our world, time and place.

  8. Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

    Paul: Did you link (and read) any of the stuff you posted? The ETS study, while focused on PRAXIS results that ETS publishes, shows that PRAXIS takers (whom can be assumed to be mostly teachers), based on SAT scores, are superior to other college students who take the SAT (which is not all college students) in language abilities and below other SAT takers in math abilities. This matches another ETS study, How Teacher Compare, that show teachers … Read More

    Paul:

    Did you link (and read) any of the stuff you posted?

    The ETS study, while focused on PRAXIS results that ETS publishes, shows that PRAXIS takers (whom can be assumed to be mostly teachers), based on SAT scores, are superior to other college students who take the SAT (which is not all college students) in language abilities and below other SAT takers in math abilities. This matches another ETS study, How Teacher Compare, that show teachers exceed most other professions academically in language abilities but trail only engineers in math abilities. Teaching being a language based profession, all of this should be no surprise.

    “Despite successful recruitment efforts, SFUSD loses strong applicants because of late hiring – which may be attributable to many factors.”

    The TNTP study you link to (see quote above) focuses on the shortcomings of SFUSD’s HR department and how it loses many candidates because of bureaucratic sclerosis. In 60 pages of recommendations there is ONE sentence proposing a review of salary schedules and benefits packages.

    Again, I am committed to seeing teachers compensation packages improve. CA’s teachers are, when adjusted for cost-of-living, the lowest paid of the major industrialized states. CA being in the bottom five in funding per child of the 50 states is a disgrace. But, let’s focus on real issues: school funding, high child poverty rates, poor public services to children and families, and realistic ways to deal with CA’s extraordinarily high number of EL students and the ridiculous “ban” on bilingual education. That’s a partial list.

    Replies

    • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

      Hello again, Gary. Of course I've read those reports! I refer to them often in my posts. There is a matter of nuance. You'll notice that I added an inbound link ("#page=") to the ETS study. Yes, the ETS found modest improvements since the previous exercise in the 1990s, but no, the results for certain grades/specialties were still not good. If you look at the page to which I linked, you'll see that elementary teacher candidates, in … Read More

      Hello again, Gary.

      Of course I’ve read those reports! I refer to them often in my posts. There is a matter of nuance.

      You’ll notice that I added an inbound link (“#page=”) to the ETS study. Yes, the ETS found modest improvements since the previous exercise in the 1990s, but no, the results for certain grades/specialties were still not good. If you look at the page to which I linked, you’ll see that elementary teacher candidates, in particular, had very low achievement test scores. (CarolineSF, the critiques that I am aware of concede that academic preparation varies by grade/subject. Moreover, it is acknowledged that teachers, when they do have advanced degrees — just 40% of teachers in California — almost never earned those degrees in subject matter fields.)

      The San Francisco report is exactly the kind of situation that I want to highlight: “the public sector has difficulty attracting … talent.” Here we have an example of a school district with a serious achievement gap, large numbers of low-performing schools, and municipal top-up money in the tens of millions, and they still lose the well-educated teacher candidates that they so badly need to ‘nicer’ suburban districts.

      Of course, the analysis does not, and could not, tally the number of undergraduates headed off at the pass when they realize that teaching combines significant formal entry barriers (testing, fifth year of study, 2-year induction program, bias toward temporary employment, and dismissal without cause for two years in each district if the candidate is lucky enough to get a probationary contract) with low pay.

      Bureaucracy, system inflexibility and low pay do affect the teacher pool. The profession attracts the people who most love teaching, not necessarily those who would be best qualified to do it.

      Returning to the original article, as much as I disagree with only calling people from outside the district school world, and with using “Silicon Valley” as the only proxy for success, I think it’s refreshing to invite some people from outside the K-12 education establishment to the school innovation table.

      At my last school, difficult topics that prompted many hours of discussion among teachers and site leaders were: why Grade 6 physical education must be scheduled during Period 4, even though this creates an imbalance in teaching assignments because no other Grade 6 classes meet during that period, and whether playing a song on the P.A. system would motivate students to clean up at lunch. I would much rather have heard about experimenting with a later start to the school day or colocating startup companies and public schools. Public K-12 education suffers from a certain myopia, and some of this has to do with factors that discourage visionary people from working in this field.

      • CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

        Actually, SFUSD does not have large numbers of low-performing schools. It has some, but an increasing number are successful and also in demand (in our all-choice district). Many formerly low-performing schools are now doing quite well. This largely reflects district demographics, including what appears to be fewer middle-class families fleeing to private.

        Disclosure that I’m speaking as a veteran of 26 kid-years as an SFUSD parent (my kids graduated in ’09 and ’12) and the wife of an SFUSD teacher.

        • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

          Hello, CarolineSF. I'm glad you've had positive experiences with San Francisco Unified. The Superintendent's Zone, which groups the lowest-performing schools for purposes of staffing, professional development, etc., remains a large part of the system. The district as a whole remains in Program Improvement, and proficiency levels in math and English, based on CST results, stand at 57.2% and 60.5%, respectively, with much lower results for minority students. For example, just 36% of African American students … Read More

          Hello, CarolineSF. I’m glad you’ve had positive experiences with San Francisco Unified. The Superintendent’s Zone, which groups the lowest-performing schools for purposes of staffing, professional development, etc., remains a large part of the system. The district as a whole remains in Program Improvement, and proficiency levels in math and English, based on CST results, stand at 57.2% and 60.5%, respectively, with much lower results for minority students. For example, just 36% of African American students and 38% of Latinos scored proficient in English. In math, the corresponding figures were 39% and 45%. The district buries its results behind colorful headings, stock photos, clip-art, and testimonials about individual schools. SFUSD performs at the level of other urban districts, and significantly lags suburban ones.

          http://web.sfusd.edu/Services/research_public/rpa_CST_power_point/SFUSD%202012%20STAR%20Results-Board%20Meeting%20–%20September%2025,%202012%20(pdf).pdf

          • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

            This May, 2013 press release about API rankings sums it up:

            “While 40 percent (41/102) of SFUSD schools were among the highest ranked in the state (7 to 10), another 44 percent (45/102) of the schools ranked in the below average category, the lowest 40 percent of the state, with a statewide ranking of 1 through 4. There were 19 schools in the bottom 10 percent of the statewide ranking system with a rank of 1.”

            http://www.sfusd.edu/en/news/current-news/2013-news-archive/05/state-announces-san-francisco%E2%80%99s-api-school-rankings.html

            • Manuel 6 years ago6 years ago

              Hey, Paul, why is it surprising that half the schools are above average and half are below average? Isn't that the definition of "average" regardless of the actual distribution of the school scores? I am confused by this post as I don't understand what your position is on this. Are you condemning SFUSD for meeting the definition of "average?" Or are you just demonstrating the fallacy of expecting all schools to be above average? Am I … Read More

              Hey, Paul, why is it surprising that half the schools are above average and half are below average? Isn’t that the definition of “average” regardless of the actual distribution of the school scores?

              I am confused by this post as I don’t understand what your position is on this. Are you condemning SFUSD for meeting the definition of “average?” Or are you just demonstrating the fallacy of expecting all schools to be above average? Am I missing something here?

            • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

              Manuel, would a high-performing district have almost half its schools in the lower API deciles? No, not until the whole state had achieved high performance. Would a high-performing district have overall and subgroup proficiency rates as low as San Francisco's (see the EdData view described above)? No. As I've said, this elaboration on school rankings is a diversion anyway. Forgive me for citing San Francisco as an example of a district with large numbers of low-performing … Read More

              Manuel, would a high-performing district have almost half its schools in the lower API deciles? No, not until the whole state had achieved high performance. Would a high-performing district have overall and subgroup proficiency rates as low as San Francisco’s (see the EdData view described above)? No.

              As I’ve said, this elaboration on school rankings is a diversion anyway. Forgive me for citing San Francisco as an example of a district with large numbers of low-performing schools. I did so because there is thorough, published information about the district’s personnel problems, and my comment to the original article was that a judicious mix of inside and outside talent would be good for the schools.

              Gary, you can’t honestly be siding with Arne Duncan and yet more conservative reformers, who have concluded that advanced degrees don’t affect the quality of instruction. You can’t honestly be claiming that an average level of education (with below-average academic results, for teachers in certain grades/subjects) is adequate for a knowledge-based profession. I will assume that you are playing devil’s advocate.

              When you write comments like ‘can you read?’ I really do feel as though I’m talking to an old-line union boss, precisely the kind of person who doesn’t welcome input from younger folks without tenure (okay, “permanent status” as we well know). It’s amazing that I could take a moderate position (we need to include some district school people at the school innovation table, and broaden the definition of talent beyond “Silicon Valley”) but be branded as a conservative!

      • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

        Paul: There's a lot more than just "nuance' in our differing interpretations of the sites you posted. I think others (below) have made most of the points i would have brought up; however, there is still a lack of empirical evidence to suggest teachers are not the academic equals of any other profession. The suggestion that they are not is an urban myth generated by conservative pundits. And that "only" 40% have advanced degrees? Only 30 … Read More

        Paul:

        There’s a lot more than just “nuance’ in our differing interpretations of the sites you posted. I think others (below) have made most of the points i would have brought up; however, there is still a lack of empirical evidence to suggest teachers are not the academic equals of any other profession. The suggestion that they are not is an urban myth generated by conservative pundits. And that “only” 40% have advanced degrees? Only 30 to 35% of people in the nation have a BA. Is that enough? Why or why not?

  9. CarolineSF 6 years ago6 years ago

    Claims that teachers tend to be lower academic performers have been widely dissected, and some say discredited, just for the record. Don't have time to find links right now, but I don't think they're hard to find. Also, segueing into personal observation for a minute: In my own family's life experience, problem teachers have tended to be secondary-school math teachers. The issue was -- again in my observation -- absolutely not that they weren't well versed … Read More

    Claims that teachers tend to be lower academic performers have been widely dissected, and some say discredited, just for the record. Don’t have time to find links right now, but I don’t think they’re hard to find.

    Also, segueing into personal observation for a minute: In my own family’s life experience, problem teachers have tended to be secondary-school math teachers. The issue was — again in my observation — absolutely not that they weren’t well versed and skilled in their subject but that they were not effective communicators. This indicates to me that there should be questioning and deep probing of the widely promoted notion that lack of mastery of the subject matter is the primary challenge of problem teachers.

  10. Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

    There is something to be said for bringing new, different, and potentially greater talent into public education. Whether we are talking about classroom teachers, school principals or district superintendents, the public sector has difficulty attracting and retaining talent. Teachers are underpaid and overworked, and what respect they receive is detached (outside observer: "Oh, teaching is such a noble job!"; principal or parent: "How can I get that teacher fired?"). Rational people with practical alternatives don't … Read More

    There is something to be said for bringing new, different, and potentially greater talent into public education. Whether we are talking about classroom teachers, school principals or district superintendents, the public sector has difficulty attracting and retaining talent. Teachers are underpaid and overworked, and what respect they receive is detached (outside observer: “Oh, teaching is such a noble job!”; principal or parent: “How can I get that teacher fired?”). Rational people with practical alternatives don’t enter teaching, or don’t stay.

    Principals and superintendents are well-paid, but not relative to what successful private-sector managers earn. (This is not to imply that the training and experience that K-12 administrators receive would make them successful in private industry.) For educational leaders, the big risk is political: principals and superintendents don’t last long these days. People with choices don’t tolerate volatile work assignments, unless the risk comes with a much larger financial reward than is available to K-12 administrators.

    Whether “Silicon Valley” is a good shorthand for the kinds of talent we’d like to introduce is a different matter. For several years now, virtually all new intellectual production in Silicon Valley has revolved around selling digital advertising and “mining” search histories and social exchanges for clues about consumer behavior. That is why Google Web search, Google Mail, Facebook, Twitter, and almost all iPhone and Android apps were developed. These companies care about making money, and this would be just fine, if only they would drop the rhetoric about making life better and increasing access to information (yay, libraries!). This article sums up the Valley today:

    http://www.allanalytics.com/author.asp?section_id=2386&doc_id=264429

    The fundamental goal is quite narrow. The talent is formidable, but it is highly specialized, as it must be, to achieve the goal. What of non-commercial goals and general intellectual ability?

    el and other commentators are so right that it pays to ask those already working in the field. I’ll offer another anecdote. At one of my schools, we were fortunate to be able to hire artists, using grant money. A Grade 5 art project required students to apply glitter. The art docent — a successful artist but not a teacher — gave out entire bottles of glitter. Until I intervened, snatched back the bottles, and started giving out pinches of glitter on demand, more was sticking to the floor than to the art projects. ‘Too little practical experience, too much glitter’ is the perfect metaphor.

    I take issue with the claim that large numbers of California teachers show videos all year and then spend a few weeks on test preparation, damaging large numbers of students. In three hundred days of substitute teaching, I saw only a few video-teachers. (They reflected a mix of old and young, tenured and non.) Sometimes, I saw teachers who simply didn’t realize what their students could do. If anything, people should be amazed that teachers bother, given the low pay (relative to the number of undergraduate and graduate credits required), the limited opportunties for advancement, and the fact that strong effort does not increase a teacher’s pay, nor make it possible for a young, temporary teacher to keep her job next year.

    This brings us to money. If you want the most talented people, the best supplies and equipment, and the most stimulating learning experiences, you do have to spend money. It’s nuts to say that the particular people matter more than the level of funding, when the level of funding determines the kind and number of people who can be hired and retained.

    In sum, school innovation weekends are great, more district school (as opposed to charter school and non-school) people should be included, the notion of talent should be broadened beyond just “Silicon Valley”, and nothing will happen without adequate funding.

    Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Heh. Love ‘Too little practical experience, too much glitter.’

      Piggybacking on the money part…

      Let’s say you do attract the top graduates of the top schools in the country, and let’s pretend they did make the very best teachers. When their children get to be college-aged, how the heck will they be able to afford to send them?

    • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

      Paul:

      “the public sector has difficulty attracting and retaining talent”

      What do you base that on? beginning teachers have a very low retention rate, but there is no indication “talent” per se is driving them out.

      • el 6 years ago6 years ago

        "talent" in this case is a synonym for "people" and although it implies high quality people, it only has an echo of that. But it's meant to imply skilled people - like teachers - rather than say jobs that are considered to be low skilled, interchangeable, and easily taught, like say, delivery workers. The reality is that in many venues that teaching does not pay enough to own a home within that district's boundary, which does … Read More

        “talent” in this case is a synonym for “people” and although it implies high quality people, it only has an echo of that. But it’s meant to imply skilled people – like teachers – rather than say jobs that are considered to be low skilled, interchangeable, and easily taught, like say, delivery workers.

        The reality is that in many venues that teaching does not pay enough to own a home within that district’s boundary, which does in fact make it very difficult to retain younger teachers. Older teachers often bought before the California housing market skyrocketed, and so we as a state have been able to ride that for some time.

        • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

          El: I am certainly not going to argue that teachers don't deserve to be paid as professionals. I've spent some 25 years negotiating and arguing to support improved teacher compensation. That being said, let's not forget that teachers are also not primarily motivated by dollar issues. They enter and remain in the profession, not to make huge amounts of money, but to make a difference in kids lives. There is real empirical information on why teachers … Read More

          El:

          I am certainly not going to argue that teachers don’t deserve to be paid as professionals. I’ve spent some 25 years negotiating and arguing to support improved teacher compensation. That being said, let’s not forget that teachers are also not primarily motivated by dollar issues. They enter and remain in the profession, not to make huge amounts of money, but to make a difference in kids lives. There is real empirical information on why teachers leave the profession in droves in the first five years, and the two primary reasons are: 1) lack of resources available to do their jobs; and, 2) poor leadership. Debate on the schools struggles mightily to avoid actual discussion of real causes and real effects and wallows in cliches about “accountability,” “no excuses,” “powerful teachers’ unions,” etc., but can’t seem to wrestle with poverty, resources (who is to be held accountable for CA being 49th in the nation in funding per child? teachers? unions?), or leadership for that matter.

          • el 6 years ago6 years ago

            I agree with you, but there is a floor, and part of that floor is "enough money to comfortably pay the bills and have ordinary housing nearby." It is part of the "and I'm supposed to do science labs with these kids for $1/kid/year" problem. I don't think teachers feel the need to make Wall Street salaries but they also don't want to have to worry about whether they're buying too many groceries this week … Read More

            I agree with you, but there is a floor, and part of that floor is “enough money to comfortably pay the bills and have ordinary housing nearby.” It is part of the “and I’m supposed to do science labs with these kids for $1/kid/year” problem. I don’t think teachers feel the need to make Wall Street salaries but they also don’t want to have to worry about whether they’re buying too many groceries this week or if they’ll be able to send the kids to college.

            When someone comes in here talking about “peace corps” salaries we’re talking single people who will eventually want to grow up and get a real job, and who are learning on the job the whole time they serve. It’s not a sustainable way to build a skilled workforce.

            My area tends to be lower paid than others which reflects my comment. Probably in the central valley there’s a better match of salaries to housing cost.

      • Paul 6 years ago6 years ago

        Hello, Gary. I mean that school districts -- particularly ones with patterns of low student performance -- have trouble hiring teachers with strong academic backgrounds, http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_SFUSD_Full_Report_020509F.pdf and that people who choose a teaching career tend to have been average academic performers. http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/TQ_full_report.pdf#page=22 Recently, I've found some analyses that measure lifetime earnings for various professions. Though the technical quality varies, with some analysts naively adding nominal yearly incomes, others at least discounting the yearly incomes for inflation, and the best ones, … Read More

        Hello, Gary.

        I mean that school districts — particularly ones with patterns of low student performance — have trouble hiring teachers with strong academic backgrounds,

        http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_SFUSD_Full_Report_020509F.pdf

        and that people who choose a teaching career tend to have been average academic performers.

        http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/TQ_full_report.pdf#page=22

        Recently, I’ve found some analyses that measure lifetime earnings for various professions. Though the technical quality varies, with some analysts naively adding nominal yearly incomes, others at least discounting the yearly incomes for inflation, and the best ones, creating comprehensive net present value models, the conclusion is always the same: among professionals with the same level of education, teachers have the lowest lifetime earnings. This no doubt influences the availability of talent.

  11. Patrick Atwater 6 years ago6 years ago

    El, thanks for the thoughtful realpolitik. And duly noted on the semiotics of Silicon Valley. For the record, I'm not a fancy technology -- just a crazy dreamer from the foothills of Los Angeles. And your point about cash is fair though I do think there's space to think creatively with nonprofit models and a peace-corps logic to make the burden minimal on districts. Couldn't agree more about the on the ground point … Read More

    El, thanks for the thoughtful realpolitik. And duly noted on the semiotics of Silicon Valley. For the record, I’m not a fancy technology — just a crazy dreamer from the foothills of Los Angeles. And your point about cash is fair though I do think there’s space to think creatively with nonprofit models and a peace-corps logic to make the burden minimal on districts.

    Couldn’t agree more about the on the ground point btw. That was drilled into our heads as Coro Fellows “Map =/= Territory”, “Map =/= territory”, …

  12. Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Hey edsource techs – why is it that URLs that are nested a few comments deep aren’t clickable?

  13. Patrick Atwater 6 years ago6 years ago

    So by Silicon Valley caliber talent I don't mean Google engineers. In fact, I explicitly say "recruit interdisciplinary teams of teachers, analysts, designers, engineers and other ridiculously talented folks around the stated goal of catalyzing the creation of new school models." The point in mentioning Silicon Valley is just that all the folks would share a certain pioneering spirit. I hear your point about resources though I think people are ultimately more important than … Read More

    So by Silicon Valley caliber talent I don’t mean Google engineers. In fact, I explicitly say “recruit interdisciplinary teams of teachers, analysts, designers, engineers and other ridiculously talented folks around the stated goal of catalyzing the creation of new school models.” The point in mentioning Silicon Valley is just that all the folks would share a certain pioneering spirit.

    I hear your point about resources though I think people are ultimately more important than dollars in education.

    Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Patrick, I assume you didn't mean it that way, but using "Silicon Valley" as a playful synonym for "smart talented people" just came off as incredibly offensive and insular. As it happens, even here in podunk school in Town You Never Heard of, we recruit and employ quite a few extremely smart and talented and clever people already. So the two rules for getting your idea to work: 1. Bring cash. 2. Never assume the people you send … Read More

      Patrick, I assume you didn’t mean it that way, but using “Silicon Valley” as a playful synonym for “smart talented people” just came off as incredibly offensive and insular. As it happens, even here in podunk school in Town You Never Heard of, we recruit and employ quite a few extremely smart and talented and clever people already.

      So the two rules for getting your idea to work:
      1. Bring cash.
      2. Never assume the people you send are smarter than the people already on the ground.

      You want to send us extra hands who will take direction from the smart people we already have in implementing ideas they just haven’t had time and resources to try – that’s more attractive.

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Understand that when I say “resources” I mostly mean “money to pay people” since people are ultimately the expensive part of education. Even smart people gotta eat and pay their rent.

  14. Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

    “Silicon Valley-caliber talent in school districts…” Really? Dilbert as K-12 educational consultant. Makes as much sense as Reed Hastings, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Bill Gates, et al. The question is, how much “sense” does that amount to?

    Replies

    • Manuel 6 years ago6 years ago

      Gary, that would not be Dilbert.

      It might be “PointyHairedGuy.”

      Or Dogbert.

      Or maybe even Wally.

      But not Dilbert.

      • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

        Although Dilbert is the "hero" of the strip, note his (in)ability to relate socially to others. The classroom is all about relating to others. Where many people, teachers included, might argue in a variety of contexts whether the metaphorical "glass is half-empty or half-full" engineers (and techies like Dilbert) tend to argue the glass is built twice as big as it needs to be and never mind the metaphor. Metaphors and analogies are wonderful teaching … Read More

        Although Dilbert is the “hero” of the strip, note his (in)ability to relate socially to others. The classroom is all about relating to others. Where many people, teachers included, might argue in a variety of contexts whether the metaphorical “glass is half-empty or half-full” engineers (and techies like Dilbert) tend to argue the glass is built twice as big as it needs to be and never mind the metaphor. Metaphors and analogies are wonderful teaching tools. Think of the Social Network guy as a classroom teacher. Nightmare! Dogbert might be preferable.

        • Manuel 6 years ago6 years ago

          Ouch, Gary, that's a rather uncharitable view of engineers and techies. Not all of them are that far in the Asperger Spectrum. As for me, I've always asked whose idea was it to fill the glass to the mid-point not whether the glass is optimally defined. I've never watched Social Network but I understand that various guys are in it so I draw a blank. Dogbert is a psychopath, in my opinion, and I would … Read More

          Ouch, Gary, that’s a rather uncharitable view of engineers and techies. Not all of them are that far in the Asperger Spectrum. As for me, I’ve always asked whose idea was it to fill the glass to the mid-point not whether the glass is optimally defined. I’ve never watched Social Network but I understand that various guys are in it so I draw a blank. Dogbert is a psychopath, in my opinion, and I would rather have Alice in there. At least she has standards, high standards to be sure, but at least you know where she stands.

          But if we want open-ended teaching (“OK, every one on the bus, it is field trip time!”), isn’t Montessori the standard out there? Can we run our factories, excuse me, schools, along that model? But I agree with el: any new ideas need to bring their own hard cold cash and make sure that any one sent to “save” schools is intelligent enough to admit that the people s/he is “saving” could be/are her/his equals.

          • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

            Manuel:

            Glad you noticed I stereotyped “techies.” Much the way the stereotype of “Silicon Valley talent” is used as well as the canard about teachers coming from the lower ends of the academic gene pool desperate to have non-educators ride into schools to save the day with the latest silver bullet or extraordinarily expensive techie toy.

            • Manuel 6 years ago6 years ago

              Gary, you take no prisoners, eh? I guess that when you’ve been in the business for that long you might develop that m.o. Can’t say that I blame you. As they say where I come from: the donkey was not irascible, they made him. 😉

  15. Patrick Atwater 6 years ago6 years ago

    El, thanks for the comment. I think you hit the point on the head about the importance of the freedom to fail. A couple thoughts: 1) We're already failing a ton of kids. Only a little better than half of black and brown students graduate. And apathy is a huge problem in many suburban schools like the one I went to. 2) What constitutes breaking and ruining a student? A very nontrivial … Read More

    El, thanks for the comment. I think you hit the point on the head about the importance of the freedom to fail. A couple thoughts:

    1) We’re already failing a ton of kids. Only a little better than half of black and brown students graduate. And apathy is a huge problem in many suburban schools like the one I went to.

    2) What constitutes breaking and ruining a student? A very nontrivial number of my middle school teachers spent a very nontrivial amount of class time just showing videos. Then they’d do a bit of test prep before the lowest common denominator standardized testing and presto! Bang up results!!! How is that success?

    How is putting students in non-standard, unique situations that actually reflect their unique desires more likely to break and ruin a student? What if you let them go into the community and conduct interviews with folks asking “what does it mean to be a good citizen”? Will that show up in standardized tests? Who knows? And honestly who cares?

    3) Re: A-G requirements, have you looked at recent college grads underemployment? Or the slew of articles talking about how employers can’t find students with the skills they need? Maybe those permanent records aren’t the best measuring stick.

    Cheers

    Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Patrick, I know it's canon among certain groups that we're failing all our kids, but IME that's substantially overstating the case, and it suggests that we can't do worse. We can do worse, and we have. The current measure of "show improvement on standardized tests" gives schools and teachers no room to risk innovation. For example, in our school we identified that writing was a problem - not according to the tests, but according to our … Read More

      Patrick, I know it’s canon among certain groups that we’re failing all our kids, but IME that’s substantially overstating the case, and it suggests that we can’t do worse. We can do worse, and we have.

      The current measure of “show improvement on standardized tests” gives schools and teachers no room to risk innovation. For example, in our school we identified that writing was a problem – not according to the tests, but according to our local judgement. We agreed, as a group of staff and parents, to take the risk to take time away from the standard curriculum to work on writing, writing real essays and stories, not paragraphs scored by a rubric. This is a tiny tiny thing… and the way schools are measured makes something that should not be controversial a significant risk.

      Your point (3) makes little sense in this context. If you’re going to trot out the issue (which I know all too well and can discuss at length) about underemployment among college grads, why are we even having this conversation? My point is that our mistakes potentially have long term consequences and can substantially cut off future options for the kids – thus the importance of avoiding them whenever possible, as best we can.

      My point is not that your suggested innovations are bad or that the current system is ideal. Not at all. I love giving the kids more options about what they will study. I am very much a fan of connecting academic work to real world problems. There are some great projects out there already – do you know about them? I have rallied hard to support field trips in our school – even ones my child has already done – because I find them hugely valuable. The possibility of skewing class size ratios to create some smaller classes does have some promise.

      My point is that your solution – Silicon Valley consultants – is not what we need. What we need is resources. We need the money to keep innovative programs that are already successful. We need really clear roadmaps from pilots that show us the good, the bad, and especially the ugly so that we can figure out if these innovations would benefit our schools and how we can implement them so they will work locally. (If they are only showing the good we cannot trust them!) And we need resources and time and space to help bail us out if we try something and fail.

      It’s a mistake to point to Google and say startup culture is always a winner. That’s like pointing to Stuyvesant High School in NY and saying all public schools are winners… both stand on the bones of a lot of also-rans and downright failures. Most of the smartest engineers in Silicon Valley have a few failures under their belt… heck, Google itself has several. In startup land, failure is not only an option, it’s necessity.

    • Manuel 6 years ago6 years ago

      Uh, Mr. Atwater, I resent that remark. We are failing a ton of kids? And Only a little better than half of black and brown students graduate? Given the quip about standardized tests, I suppose you mean that the current measuring stick (the CSTs and the API, its Frankenchild) says that those kids are failing and, because of that, half of them don't bother to finish high school. If I am correct, has it occurred to … Read More

      Uh, Mr. Atwater, I resent that remark. We are failing a ton of kids? And Only a little better than half of black and brown students graduate?

      Given the quip about standardized tests, I suppose you mean that the current measuring stick (the CSTs and the API, its Frankenchild) says that those kids are failing and, because of that, half of them don’t bother to finish high school. If I am correct, has it occurred to you that perhaps the CSTs are set to flunk half of them from the get go? Of course not. You probably assumed that the CSTs are set to produce lowest common denominator results after a bit of test prep so if they don’t make it, well, it is their fault. Yes, it doesn’t affect the kids, but it affects their school and teachers, who will have to deal with the fallout.

      So you now propose to run a series of “experiments” and if they don’t produce the desired results, no biggie because even if they graduate from UC (!!) there are no jobs for them. I may be wrong, but I think that the EdCode requires that any class taken by students in public schools be graded and entered on their record. And UC does pay attention to that. To simply wave that off shows enormous arrogance. Or maybe it is just ignorance about the “real” world that these kids have to navigate.

      Look, I am all for the Miss Frizzle approach, but even she only took seven kids along at a time (plus Liz). And all had to wear seat belts!

      There is one thing I agree: we should not care about the standardized tests. But until they stop counting, we have to care.

  16. el 6 years ago6 years ago

    I hope you appreciate that "Silicon Valley-caliber talent" - assuming you meant to imply smart, creative, experienced people - in fact exists all over the state. Schools do not need delegations of consultants from Silicon Valley bringing them ideas used there (or worse, merely hatched there but not actually tried). For example, if you want to get the idea of taking kids outside for part of the learning day, the first thing to do is to … Read More

    I hope you appreciate that “Silicon Valley-caliber talent” – assuming you meant to imply smart, creative, experienced people – in fact exists all over the state. Schools do not need delegations of consultants from Silicon Valley bringing them ideas used there (or worse, merely hatched there but not actually tried).

    For example, if you want to get the idea of taking kids outside for part of the learning day, the first thing to do is to have someone who has done it write up an honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t work. What kinds of lessons worked well outside? What lessons flopped outside? What special amenities were needed?

    If you want to do the Magic School Bus idea, what lessons worked well? What kinds of buses are needed? (IE, your typical school bus is noisy and does not have AC.) How do you reconcile the time spent traveling against the learning time outside? What lessons flopped? How was the bus driver funded?

    If you are in Silicon Valley, for example, you may have a lot of great destinations within 30 minutes of school. If you are in Blythe, not so much… or maybe the destinations will just be very different.

    It’s these kinds of HONEST communications that make it possible for people to adopt “crazy” 🙂 ideas, in particular the downsides. You have to know the downsides.

    I have trouble imagining how the 100+ lecture would work in any K-12 situation – where you have 100 kids with enough attention span and getting the same lesson on a regular basis in a group of kids as small as a typical school. You might do better putting them more in a theater situation and using video content for some slice of a day. If someone is doing that, I’d be interested to hear how they do it and what it worked well for.

    Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      Let me try to clarify my comment a bit. It's not that people in schools don't have ideas and don't have smart, capable people. What they don't have is resources to try something that costs even ten bucks more than the status quo nor do they have any leeway to fail (I will stipulate here that by "fail" I mean "show any decline on standardized testing". One of the reasons the startup culture is very successful is that … Read More

      Let me try to clarify my comment a bit.

      It’s not that people in schools don’t have ideas and don’t have smart, capable people.

      What they don’t have is resources to try something that costs even ten bucks more than the status quo nor do they have any leeway to fail (I will stipulate here that by “fail” I mean “show any decline on standardized testing”.

      One of the reasons the startup culture is very successful is that there is a lot of room to fail. You get a pot of money, an idea, some smart people, and you make a go of it. The hope is that there will be a big payoff. If the whole venture fails, generally all the staff can find other work, and the money has typically come from a group that has enough other projects that one will pay off. No one walks away broken and ruined, and anyone who does consented beforehand.

      We don’t really have that luxury with kids, especially not someone else’s kids, and we have no resources to “repair” the situation if it doesn’t work out. For example, let’s say we try a 100 kid lecture situation – and at the end of the semester we realize that none of the kids learned a thing off the syllabus. With resources and cooperation, it might be possible to make that up over the summer or provide some intensive tutoring to get those kids back on track. Schools don’t have that. And unlike the workers in our startup example, teachers and students from failing schools may not be able to just pick up and continue without lasting damage. If this was an A-G class for UC admission, the kids’ records are permanently affected.

      This is one reason that summer programs may be the best way to innovate, because attendance is optional and the risk, should there be total failure, is less.

  17. Replies

    • el 6 years ago6 years ago

      I hope you are considering in your work that there are still many schools and communities in California without broadband access. It’s tangential to the ideas in your main essay, but broadband and internet access really change what is possible to do in a school. This is something that few people even seem to notice, and is a place where very straightforward intervention from governments and foundations could dramatically improve the options for many people, not just schools.

    • Richard Moore (@infosherpa) 6 years ago6 years ago

      And she mentions not one word about school librarians. And you have never met one, right? No idea what they do in tandem with teachers to deliver education and broaden learning. Don't feel badly. 90% of California students have never seen a school librarian. Across the country there are entire states whose schools would be shut down if they didn't have a librarian on staff. Even Idaho. Judith Auth is a superb public librarian. But there … Read More

      And she mentions not one word about school librarians. And you have never met one, right? No idea what they do in tandem with teachers to deliver education and broaden learning. Don’t feel badly. 90% of California students have never seen a school librarian. Across the country there are entire states whose schools would be shut down if they didn’t have a librarian on staff. Even Idaho.

      Judith Auth is a superb public librarian. But there are only 1000 PL branches in CA, half what it would take to be average nationally. That means 8 out of 9 neighborhoods have no local library. My city has 5 branches and 55 schools. Public libraries don’t get it done for schools.

    • navigio 6 years ago6 years ago

      Interesting interview. It is odd that she recognizes that future 'libraries' must compete in the attraction space, yet quotes someone who claims the central value of libraries is something that is 'in contrast with the conditioned response of person to the demands made on them by others and by a man-made environment.' It seems to me the belief in the need to compete is exactly just such a response to just such a demand. Are libraries destroying … Read More

      Interesting interview.

      It is odd that she recognizes that future ‘libraries’ must compete in the attraction space, yet quotes someone who claims the central value of libraries is something that is ‘in contrast with the conditioned response of person to the demands made on them by others and by a man-made environment.

      It seems to me the belief in the need to compete is exactly just such a response to just such a demand. Are libraries destroying their very raison d’être by trying to adapt? Or is Illich wrong about that importance?

      I also wonder what will happen to our society’s priority on the ability to read as our means of communication ‘evolve’ past simple text, and as libraries ‘evolve’ along with it.

  18. Richard Moore (@infosherpa) 6 years ago6 years ago

    And there wasn't a single librarian at your conference, was there? No concept of how information could be accessed by individuals or provided through research to enrich learning? California has the same number of school librarians as Connecticut, so 9000 of our schools don't have a clue how a real library works. But you are going to reinvent school by changing class size? By hiring buses? By encouraging charters, also without libraries? Let me guess. You … Read More

    And there wasn’t a single librarian at your conference, was there? No concept of how information could be accessed by individuals or provided through research to enrich learning? California has the same number of school librarians as Connecticut, so 9000 of our schools don’t have a clue how a real library works. But you are going to reinvent school by changing class size? By hiring buses? By encouraging charters, also without libraries?

    Let me guess. You work at a desk, in an office, on a floor of a big building. A cog in a wheel of a machine. But you know what is good for schools.

  19. Paul Muench 6 years ago6 years ago

    I applaud your effort to explore the flexibilities that might be possible in schools. I like the idea of having radically different class sizes. Although I don’t know how to solve the building issues that idea would introduce. We’d also need some new technology for taking class attendance in the large classes if we really care about that. Definitely not easy to convince someome to spend time and resources on this one.