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  • State Education Chiefs: Students Should Be Our Focus

    At least five state education chiefs — from across the country and from both political parties — agree: The focus of education should be the student. That’s why they banded together to form Chiefs for Change, a coalition of state education officials “committed to putting children first through bold, visionary education reform.”

    “The economic viability of our country and the future of our next generation are reliant on the courage and willingness of national, state and local leaders to move beyond what is politically comfortable and to bring about crucial changes in policy and practice,” said Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, who chairs the organization. “We must begin by recognizing that the ‘best interest of our students’ is not simply a rhetorical phrase or tag line to promote the good will of one agency or another.”

    State officials have always been nearer to the education trenches than federal officials, but they haven’t always dared to advance ideas that deviate from or delve deeper into the agenda of the broader education establishment, education experts say. Chiefs for Change represents a relatively unprecedented attempt by state school officials to attract attention to innovative and aggressive reforms that might not necessarily be widely considered or pursued otherwise.

    “At a point in American history when the debate about federalism, states’ rights and the role of education in a technology-driven society is alive and well, giving critical attention to public policies and public funds that influence the human resource side of the schooling equation — educators, students and interest groups — remains important,” said member Gerard Robinson, Virginia secretary of education.

    Specifically, Pastorek, Robinson and the other three founders of the organization — Florida Commissioner Eric Smith, Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett and Rhode Island Commissioner Deborah Gist — plan to promote a new compensation and support system for teachers, high academic standards, rigorous academic assessments and funding that follows the student, according to the Chiefs for Change mission narrative (PDF).

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to State Education Chiefs: Students Should Be Our Focus

    1. Steven A. Sylwester, says:

      One has to applaud the "Chiefs for Change" for trying, but their commitment needs a straight-up challenge in order to prove itself. Being “committed to putting children first through bold, visionary education reform" is easier said than done, and one is certainly left wondering when specifics describe a "plan to promote a new compensation and support system for teachers, high academic standards, rigorous academic assessments and funding that follows the student" — a plan that is seemingly putting teachers first, at least according to the wording of the article.

      My straight-up challenge is found in this:
      http://www.foundry.org/2010/11/26/reclaiming-ch

      The question then becomes: Will "Chiefs for Change" support my "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" (NAPS) proposal?

      The reasons why the "Chiefs for Change" might not support NAPS are these:

      1. All public high schools transferring their best students to a nearby NAPS would suffer a student "brain drain" that might negatively impact the school's overall academic performance. My argument in favor of NAPS is this: transferring the best students out of a public high school will clear the way for a more focused teaching effort that should better succeed at improving the academic performance of all of the remaining students. If "putting children first" is the commitment, then the needs of each individual student should come before the glory of the school.

      2. Public schools receive their public funding on a per-student-served basis. According to my NAPS proposal, public funding for a NAPS student goes to the NAPS that is teaching him/her, meaning: a public high school that loses a student to a nearby NAPS also loses that student's public funding. Some large public high schools could lose their public funding for possibly ten or more students to a nearby NAPS, and that creates a significant money loss in the thinking of some people. However, my NAPS proposal creates a giveback to the public high schools in the form of Science Education Fund (SEF) grants. For details, read:
      http://nasa-academy-of-the-physical-sciences.blog

      If "putting children first" is the commitment, then the needs of each individual student should come before the economic considerations of any particular public high school.

      3. My NAPS proposal separates NAPS from the jurisdiction and control of the states, and gives all jurisdiction and control of NAPS to the federal government through NASA — and that "jurisdiction and control" includes establishing high school graduation requirements for NAPS students and fully controlling the standard NAPS curriculum without having to answer to a local school board. Yes, my proposal is no small thing. In fact, it proposes a major change in public education in order to give some of America's most brilliant young people an educational opportunity that can be made easily available to them, but is now being withheld because of the ugly business of power politics. Will the "Chiefs for Change" be willing to cede some of their power to the jurisdiction and control of the federal government if doing so is in the best interests of long-term national security? What if doing so will provide ability-level academic challenges that cannot be matched at the local public high schools for some of America's most brilliant young people? If "putting children first" is the commitment, then the needs of each individual student should come before maintaining the current power structures in public education.

      So my challenge to the "Chiefs for Change" is this: When faced with sacrificing some of the Prestige, Money, and Power you enjoy in the current system, where do you draw the lines in your being “committed to putting children first through bold, visionary education reform" when it comes to serving the academic needs of the most brilliant young people in America? Are you willing to support my NAPS proposal? I hope so.

      Steven A. Sylwester

    2. Pingback: Learning That We Don’t Like Their Teaching : Smart Girl Nation

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