Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Broad Approach to Innovation

Dale Mezzacappa in Education Next:

The “leviathan” right now is embodied in the person of Arlene Ackerman, the superintendent of the Philadelphia schools, who previously led districts in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

Ackerman believes strongly that centralized leadership can bring schools into line. Experimenting and nurturing innovation and new ideas from the bottom up is not her thing. In interviews and meetings, she still talks about “what works” in terms of what worked for her in her St. Louis high school almost 50 years ago.

At the same time, Ackerman has a strategic plan called Imagine 2014 that lays out a vision of high school strikingly similar to what SOF has been laboring toward. It calls for flexible schedules, more project-based and interdisciplinary learning, a more engaging and real world–based course of study, increased opportunity for teachers to work in teams, and better integration of technology across subject areas. But she has shown little sign, so far, that she wants to explore the connection between what is needed to make that a reality and what has been happening, in fits and starts, at (the School Of The Future in Philadelphia).

Or, for that matter, at SLA.

This "we must destroy your bottom-up innovation before we impose the same innovations on you at an very specific, yet somehow constantly receding point in the future" thing is, of course, incredibly frustrating. We're getting the same line in Providence. A common thread among adherents to this approach is participation in the Broad Academy.

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