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Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the School Redesign...

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It's Finally Here

by George Wood, Superintendent of Federal Hocking Local Schools, Executive Director of the Forum for Education and Democracy and Board Chair of The Coalition of Essential Schools

Our Lake Wobegon moment has finally arrived. This year, all children shall officially be above average.

For those of you who have forgotten, 2014 was the target date by which all children were to be proficient in reading and math. At least that is what the politicians in Washington decreed when, over a decade ago, No Child Left Behind replaced the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

I doubt those who dreamed up this rhetorical sleight-of-hand caught the irony of having the "proficiency" target date fall on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's declaration of war on poverty. Ironic because ESEA was a very small part of that war.

Johnson and his allies knew that public education was a crucial weapon in the fight against poverty--especially in still-segregated schools of the South. But the president had no way to influence educational policy because the federal government was, constitutionally, out of the education game.

No Excuses

by George Wood, Superintendent of the Federal Hocking Local Schools in Stewart, Ohio; Executive Director of the Forum for Education and Democracy; Board Chair of The Coalition of Essential Schools

The National Center for Educational Statistics says low-income children now make up 48% of the children attending public school.  In my district, which sits in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural southeast Ohio, that percentage is 63%.

For years, educators and children's advocates have pointed out that educating poor children requires more time and resources.  By simply pointing out this fact, they have been accused of "making excuses."  Former President George W. Bush accused them of engaging in "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The "no excuses" crowd chimed in that poverty should never be an excuse for a lack of student success--and that only poor teachers or schools should bear such responsibility.

More Than A Doghouse

by George Wood, Forum Executive Director and Superintendent of Federal Hocking Local Schools

At most high schools, fall means football, homecoming and writing college application essays.

Add a fourth task at our high school: getting your Senior Project approved.

We take seriously our charge to get young people ready for life after school. Since Class of 2001, we have required all candidates for graduation to plan and carry out a Senior Project.

The project has multiple parts--choose an area of interest, develop a proposal including any funding, find a resource person outside of the school to mentor you, carry the project out, present it to a panel for review and approval.

All of these are needed in the world outside of school. When so much of school is now driven by mandated curriculum and tests, students have very little opportunity to learn on their own and to manage their own work. And from what we are told by our graduates, our senior projects prepare them for the work at college, on the job, and in their communities.

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