“Critical friend” was a key phrase in public school reform jargon twenty years ago, when site-based management was the reform du jour, and educational leaders in schools looked for truth-telling allies who could help them discern what worked and what didn’t work in their classrooms and campuses.
Those days are long gone, but the need for critical friends remains. Practitioners in classrooms, schools, district offices, school boardrooms, and state agencies all need allies who understand education and want to help.
Not many people outside of California know that one of the most important critical friends of public education here is the Public Policy Institute of California, or PPIC. Philanthropist William R. Hewitt gave a founding grant of $70 million to establish PPIC in San Francisco in 1994, and RAND alum David Lyon served as its founding president. Since then, PPIC has developed a reputation for serious, careful, and constructive public policy analysis in a variety of areas, including K-12 education.
I bring this up today because PPIC has just released its annual “California’s Future” report for 2015. The report offers overviews and policy recommendations on climate change, the state’s prisons, water, housing, you name it. But the K-12 section, written by Laura Hill, Niu Gao, and Paul Warren will interest readers of this blog. It engages issues we have raised here, including the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, last year’s Vergara court ruling on teacher tenure and job protections, and the Common Core State Standards.
As we often say on the Interwebs, read the whole thing.
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