My colleague Susan Headden and I recently wrote a piece about extending school time for the Wallace Foundation’s report “Reimagining the School Day”
John Thompson’s response rightly praised the Wallace Foundation’s attention to expanding not just time but high-quality learning. He also suggested that Susan and I did an alright job bringing up some important points that we gleaned from the Wallace conference. Thompson agrees, for example, that more learning time requires great partners. He also agrees that schools would do well to focus more on chronic absenteeism, which undoubtedly leads to a subgroup of students, usually the most vulnerable, missing huge chunks of learning time.
But then, as though he can’t help himself, John goes on to say that Education Sector’s “rushed approach to reform” is “based on blaming individual teachers and schools, and teacher-proofing instruction, as well as democracy-proofing local school systems.” And then he thanks the Wallace Foundation for helping recruit Education Sector to the collaborative side of reform.
John, you comment on almost everything we post and publish so I’d think you’d have a more balanced sense of our work. I’ve been with Education Sector since its first year. I have not always agreed with everyone and everything here (we have different philosophies and perspectives and freely debate and disagree)–I’m sure there are pieces you could find that would make your point but it’s pretty far-fetched to say we’ve been recently recruited to the “collaborative side of reform,” whichever side you think that is. Since 2007, we’ve written about how to invest in teachers, how to design teachers’ work so it meets the needs of today’s students and teachers, about how to link teacher evaluation and support, and about the potential of union-district collaboration. And it’s not the first time I’ve written about extended time designs with the main point that it’s about quality not quantity.
You can try to lump us all into one scary camp of accountability hawk reformers who are bent on launching an educational civil war, but you can’t make it true. More importantly, I’m not sure how it helps the cause of improving public education to do so.