Wednesday, February 24, 2010


CNN has the story of a Rhode Island school district superintendent whose desire it is to fire all the 74 teachers in the lowest performing school in the state. The problem with stories like this is that it is  presented very few specific facts (except overall scores of the students). The story does not help the population govern itself as we cannot make educated decisions because we are not really educated. 

  • What is the culture of the school? Is it a positive and encouraging atmosphere or a toxic one?
  • What is the culture of the families in the school community? Do they support making their children better or disdain all things educational?
  • What is the overall attitude of the teachers?
  • What is the overall attitude of the administrators?
  • What kind of district support (money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • What kind of district support (not money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • How is the district responding to the specialized needs of persons in poverty?
  • What pedagogy are the teachers using to educate the students?
  • How do the teachers design learning environments specific to persons in poverty?
  • What amounts of tutoring are already going on in the school?
  • What are teachers doing to reach students and establish strong relationships?
  • Why is there such a turnover rate with principals in this school?

In order to determine the causes of the problem and make strides to repair the damage and educate students, harder questions must be asked beyond graduation rates and math proficiencies (both important questions in identifying there is a problem, but superficial questions in regards to addressing the problem.) 

To even take a side with this lack of real questioning is to succumb to certain political and world views rather than addressing the individual school's issues. I have my own world views and could make sweeping statements based on those world views, but it would be just as uneducated as both of the persons interviewed. In order to properly govern ourselves, we need deep questions and further exploration.

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