Education Opinion

Broader, bolder (and delivered to your inbox!)

By Jessica Shyu — August 12, 2008 2 min read
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Summer.is.over. It’s the start of a new school year, new teachers, new trainings to lead and working 16-hour days, 5 1/2 times a week.

It also means I haven’t blogged for an appalling two weeks, I haven’t cooked dinner in three, and there will be no vacuuming until September. But one thing I can do during this busy time is stay somewhat abreast of recent news, including news in the education world.

(Cue infomercial jingle)

I subscribe to SmartBrief, a free, email-based newsletter service that pulls out key news stories that relate to a particular trade. By signing up, I receive a daily summary of the top news stories in a particular industry right in my inbox by the afternoon. On busy days when I don’t have time to even glance at The New York Times education page, I just glance through the one-paragraph summaries in the SmartBrief email, and with the stories that catch my attention, I click directly to the story.

For instance, I did my quick email check tonight and scrolled through the headlines and summaries, got a quick and dirty idea of what was happening in the ed world around me, and clicked on the statement released by “A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education.”

Here is this organization’s big idea:

Consistent with these two principles, we propose a broader, bolder approach with the following four priorities:

* Continue to pursue school improvement efforts. Research support is strongest for the benefits of small class sizes in the early grades for disadvantaged children, and for attracting and retaining high-quality teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools. Many other school improvement efforts commonly advocated in today’s policy debates have merit and should be pursued, such as improved professional development and school leadership; better coordination between pre-school, elementary, secondary, and higher education; the use of assessments that provide guidance to teachers and principals; and better instruction that makes a high-quality college preparatory curriculum accessible to all students. Educational planners must recognize that some students, such as recent immigrants, arrive at school with distinctive needs that warrant special attention.

* Increase investment in developmentally appropriate and high-quality early childhood, pre-school, and kindergarten education. Every American child should arrive at the starting line of first grade ready and able to learn. Such a goal is consistent with Americans’ strong belief that every person should have the opportunity to make the most of his or her abilities. It is also a prerequisite for weakening the link between socioeconomic background and achievement.

Honestly, my mind is still thinking about how to design next week’s session on co-teaching/collaboration, how to best teach my SPED teachers how to backwards unit plan and use benchmark assessment plans, and I’m a little stressed... but it’s heartening to know that while I’m working 16-hours a day on these nitty-gritty things for my 35 teachers to close the achievement gap in their classrooms this year with their middle and high schoolers, things are happening outside of my narrow scope to build the coalition we need to narrow the gap. Because it will take a village.

The opinions expressed in New Terrain are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.