January 4th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

CTNow.com: State’s Largest Teacher Union Calls for Tenure Reform, Universal Preschool, All-Day Kindergarten
The Connecticut Education Association, which represents more than 43,000 teachers, has recommended streamlining the state’s teacher tenure and dismissal systems.

SFGate: Fewer California schools have trained librarians
Due to budget cuts, less than 25% of California's public schools have a full-time librarian. Some argue that trained librarians are needed to teach students research skills, while others say that technology has made the position less important.

New York Times: Local Options Help Slow Africa's Brain Drain
Africa's growing middle class used to look overseas for higher education opportunities. Many of those students never returned to the continent after graduation. New universities from Shanghai to Pittsburgh are partnering with African governments to offer local options in an attempt to reverse that trend.

The Miami Herald: In Miami-Dade district, two lawyers who teach high school
Miami-Dade's school system offers high school programs in law enforcement, criminal justice and the legal system. Some of the the courses are taught by lawyers who left the courtroom for the classroom.

TBO.com: Westchase Elementary family copes with loss of special teacher
Kindergarden students in Susan Mikolajczyk's class spent their first day back from winter break dealing with their beloved teacher's passing.

January 4th, 2012
08:11 AM ET

My View: Time for the status quo to make room for meaningful school reform

Courtesy Anthony Codyby Anthony Cody, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Anthony Cody worked in high-poverty schools in Oakland, California, for 24 years. For 18 of them, he taught middle school science. He now lives in Mendocino County and leads workshops for teachers.  He writes the Living in Dialogue blog and you can follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyCody.

We are now three decades into a huge effort to improve our schools using standards and tests. This project has become the status quo, but it has failed to live up to its promise. I spent the past 24 years teaching science in an urban school district, where I experienced this all first-hand. The students that were supposed to be served are still being “left behind.”

Let’s take a look at some of the big ideas that have become the status quo in education, contrasted with what I believe to be more meaningful reforms.

Status quo reforms promise that schools or teachers alone can eradicate the achievement gap in a few short years. Anyone who makes such promises, no matter how fervent or urgent they might be, is selling silver bullets. Don’t buy them - they don’t shoot straight. The status quo for high-poverty schools for the past decade is to have their test scores used to label them as failures and threaten the teachers working there with termination or reassignment if scores don’t rise. But school closures have not provided the results promised, and the constant pressure to raise scores results in a narrowed curriculum.

Meaningful reforms do not promise magical results. They focus attention on the learning conditions for students, including class size, safe and well-supplied schools, and resources for special education.

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