Journal of Educational Controversy


Saturday, December 31, 2011

More on the Order to Close the Mexican-American Studies Program in Tucson, Arizona

While you are waiting to read Augustine Romero’s article, "The Hypocrisy of Racism: Arizona's Movement towards State-Sanctioned Apartheid," in our upcoming issue of the journal (mentioned in our earlier post), check out the latest on the websites below.

1. “Tucson Orders Closure of Mexican-American School Program as Ethnic Studies Faces Nationwide Threat” Interview from Democracy Now

2. “Repeat After Me: The United States is Not an Imperialist Country—Oh, and Don’t Get Emotional About War’ From Rethinking Schools Blog

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Get an Insider's View on the Events that Led to Arizona's Ban on Ethnic Studies

We are getting closer and closer to the publication of our special issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on "The Education and Schools our Children Deserve."  We have been making readers aware of the various dimensions of the issue in the posts below.   If you want an insider's view on the events we have been reporting on in our coverage of Arizona's ban on ethnic studies on this blog, take a look at our special, "In the News" section in our upcoming issue.  The Director of Student Equity of the Tucson Unified School District, whose district was targeted by the legislation passed in Arizona to ban ethnic studies, tells us about the events that led up to the legislation.  Get an insiders view from Director Augustine Romero and read the actual legislation in our upcoming issue.  Dr.Romero tells his own story in the article, "The Hypocrisy of Racism: Arizona's Movement towards State-Sanctioned Apartheid."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Author Sam Chaltain Reveals his First Nominees for the World's Most Transformational Schools

Editor:  In the post below, we talked about author Sam Chaltain's attempt to elicit nominees for the world's most transformational schools.  Here is his initial list (scroll down to the link at the bottom of the post) from the nominations sent to his website.  Use the QED Transformational Change Model to decide how transformational each school is.  Is your school a transformational school?

Your Nominees for the World's Most Transformational Learning Environments

by Sam Chaltain

I know most of us have already checked out for the year, but I wanted to share the nominees I’ve received so far in my ongoing search for the world’s most transformational learning environments.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received recommendations either via Twitter or posted comments on this blog and/or Huffington Post. I’ve done my best to capture every recommendation I’ve received. If I missed yours, or if you have a new one to add, just post your comment and I’ll add it to the master list.

Keep in mind that this list, which features 58 nominees overall, merely aggregates what people have recommended. Of the nominees, 47 are schools or programs here in the United States: 9 public charter schools, 4 public charter school networks, 3 general networks, 13 public schools, 13 private schools, and 5 “others.” For the 11 international nominees, 6 could only be classified as “other” — an interesting contrast, I thought. In any case, see what you think, check them out at your leisure (and keep in mind the QED Transformational Change Model as a way of judging how transformational they are), and let’s all keep adding to the list.

Nominees for World’s Most Transformational Learning Environments


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Author Sam Chaltain asks "What (& Where) Are the World’s Most Transformational Schools?"

Editor: Readers will remember Sam Chaltain's article, "Ways of Seeing (and of Being Seen): Visibility in Schools," in our special issue on "Schooling as if Democracy Matters," in our winter 2008 issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy. We will be reviewing Sam's book, American Schools, The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community, in the upcoming issue. In the post below, Sam asks for nominees of the world's most transformational schools using the criteria of the QED Foundation’s Transformational Change Model?
 We'd like to nominate the Whatcom Day Academy, our partner school in the League of Democratic Schools, as a transformational school. Our upcoming issue of the journal on "The Education and Schools our Children Deserve" will have an article about the school in a multi-media presentation so readers and viewers can see actual video of classroom practices. See our continuing column on other unique schools on this blog under the label "innovative schools."
We will provide a list of the nominees for transformational schools that Sam publishes in a future post. We wish to thank the author for permission to reprint his article.

What (& Where) Are the World’s Most Transformational Schools?

by Sam Chaltain
 OK, people, let’s get specific: Out of all the schools in the world, which ones are the most transformational when it comes to imagining a new way to think about teaching and learning in the 21st century?

There are a lot of inspiring schools out there, so I want to repeat: which are the most transformational – by which I mean schools that are demonstrating, by policy and practice, 10 or more of the 22 core categories from QED Foundation’s Transformational Change Model?

What I find so useful about the QED model (scroll down a bit on their home page to see it) is the way it identifies the central pillars of a high-quality education, and then demarcates what each pillar looks like in a traditional, transitional, and transformational setting. In a traditional school, for example, we tend to assume the student bears the primary responsibility for learning; in a transitional environment, that responsibility shifts to the teacher (see, e.g., just about every recently proposed accountability policy in the U.S.); but in a transformational context, the responsibility is shared via a learning team that includes, and extends beyond, teacher and student.

Of course, learning teams are just one part of a holistic system of environmental conditions. That’s why, taken together, the QED change model helps clarify what we need, and which stages our own evolution will need to pass through, in order to pull K-12 schooling out of the Industrial-era model and into a new, Democratic-era paradigm.

Because that sort of clarity is in short supply, too often we hold up models of school reform that are, at best, examples of transitional progress, not transformational change.

With that caveat in place, please help me find the best set of transformational schools the world has to offer – and please ground your recommendations in the QED change model.

I’ll start the bidding with two examples, and a sample of the ways in which the school is modeling transformational practices:

Science Leadership Academy (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) – SLA is an inquiry-driven high school that opened its doors in 2006. Students at SLA learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes.

Selected Transformational Practices:

•Philosophy: Traditional – Coverage; Transitional – Depth/Breadth; Transformational – Standards-based Inquiry

•Goals: Traditional – Test Results Targets; Transitional – Curricular goals; Transformational – Learner Aspirations & Life Options

•Assessment: Traditional – Of Learning; Transitional – For Learning; Transformational – As Learning

•Educator Development: Traditional – Re-certification Hours; Transitional – Group Learning; Transformational – Collaborative Inquiry

Riverside School (Ahmedabad, India) — Riverside offers a curriculum and experiences of engagement with the city that enables children to better understand their skills, potential, and responsibilities as citizens. It is also developing social intervention initiatives in the city to provide a wide array of activities (cultural, instructional, and recreational) that can be synchronized with the regular school curriculum.

Selected transformational practices:

•Model of Success is Based On: Traditional – The Willing and Able; Transitional – Inclusion; Transformational – Racial and Social Justice

•Context for Learning: Traditional – Classroom; Transitional – School; Transformational – Learning Community

•When/Where Learning Happens: Traditional – In School; Transitional – Coordination between in- and out-of-school; Transformational – Anywhere/Everywhere

•Student Investment: Traditional – Requirements; Transitional – Engagement; Transformational – Passion

To be sure, Riverside and SLA are just two of the schools out there doing several things really well, and being very intentional about the way they do so. What other schools are demonstrating a transformational approach to teaching and learning? And in which specific ways are they doing so?

I look forward to your recommendations and ideas.

(This article also appeared in the Huffington Post)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What our Schools Ignore Teaching at our Peril

“Only 2% of high school seniors in 2010 could answer a simple question about the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.” This statistic comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress—commonly called “The Nation’s Report Card." Why are state educational standards ignoring the teaching of the Civil Rights Movement and its history? The report, conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the publisher of Teaching Tolerance, examines the educational standards of all 50 states and the District of Columbia and finds that most states get a failing grade. Their announcement to the report reveals that “sixteen states do not require any instruction whatsoever about the movement. In another 19, coverage is minimal. In almost all states, there is tremendous room for improvement.” One wonders about other crucial areas that might be ignored like U.S. labor history, world religions, and other crucial subjects. What ideological forces shape what we learn and what we remain ignorant of? One of our reasons for publishing our upcoming issue of the journal on The Education and Schools our Children Deserve was to explore these deeper questions. We hope to open up a conversation that looks at education as the formation of a human life in all its dimensions and what that education requires.

Readers can read the SPLC 108 page report, Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education in the United States 2011, here.

See where your state stands.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids

Here is a provocative piece from the Washington Post's "The Answer Sheet: A School Survival Guide for Parents (and Everyone Else)."   The article, "When an Adult Took Standardized Tests Forced on Kids,"  is by Marion Brady,  a veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.  Critical of today's obsession with standardized tests in the states, the author argues that "decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance, the conventional wisdom, and various combinations thereof. And then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful." 

Watch for our upcoming issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on the theme, "The Education and Schools Our Children Deserve," that will be online soon.  A frequent critic of testing, Deborah Meier, has an interesting article in this issue on what has been threatened and lost in our contemporary educational reform movement.  Watch for it.