Three Quick Reads for Policy Makers

 

When I left the university ranks some twenty years ago to become principal, one of the first things I missed about my old job was having the time to read.  Now, as both superintendent and principal, reading time seems even more precious but even more important.  So I find myself grabbing quick reads, and three of them hit my desk over the holiday break.

The first was the Atlantic magazine story on Finland's educational success.  If you haven't tired of reading about why we keep getting it wrong while Finland gets it right, this is worth a look.  The new twist in this piece are the comments by Pasi Sahlberg from the Finnish Ministry of Education noting that Americans simply ignore what is crucial to Finland's success:  a focus on equity over excellence.

Next was a blog on the School Finance 101 site asking for six studies to be carried out.  Each would focus on whether or not charter schools and private schools actually do outperform public schools, adding some evidence to the 'reality-free zone' in which most educational policy debates occur.

Finally, and just to prove that asking for evidence does not mean I am anti-charter, Joe Nocera's op-ed on the success of the partnership between The Learning Community, a charter school, and the Central Falls, RI, elementary schools.

If ever there was a model for how charter schools are to work--successfully with the same students the public schools have and sharing their results with public school partners--this is it.

Now, here is my real thinking behind this list.  I think it contains three short pieces that could be handed to any policy maker and might just get him or her to think for a moment about changing direction in the path we're taking toward education reform.  Of course, that means policy makers will have to find the time to read them.