Monday, December 10, 2007

D.C. school reform

Kudos to D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee for opening up a dialogue about bringing in outside expertise to help turn around 27 failing D.C. schools. It bodes well that the chancellor recognizes the urgent need to fix these schools and is willing to explore going outside the school system to tap the necessary expertise.

With those lessons in mind, we respectfully offer Mrs. Rhee and State Superintendent of Education Deborah Gist the following advice:

1. Don't flinch. The challenge is to structure the partnerships so that they're effective and accountable.

2. Create a club that good educators — and schools — want to join. The key is to attract, develop and retain the country's very best educators.

3. There is strength in numbers. Such a framework will give you more control, avoid an unmanageable proliferation of programs, and force your outside partners to be more accountable for results.

4. Think local. Reach out to existing local organizations that could be tapped as lead turnaround partners, and invest in building their capacity to serve in that role.

5. Maintain your sense of urgency. Chronically failing schools need transformational, not incremental, change. The Washington Times

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