Are you kidding me… close Oak Ridge Elementary School?! In what is already less than a banner year for education in general, it was painful to start my morning with a local story, the Sac Bee‘s front page story: 3 area schools told: Reform or close.
Oak Ridge Elementary School is part of the Sacramento City Unified School District. It also where my friend Alice Mercer teaches. Many readers of my blog also know Alice. And if you know Alice, you know that students who enter her computer lab have opportunities to connect, create, collaborate, and share – and to experience what 21st century teaching, learning, and citizenship is all about. You also know, through conversations with Alice, how hard the Oak Ridge team works to level the playing field for their students and to provide them with tools and programs that will take them beyond “basic.”
I’m not sure how to interpret Sac City Superintendent Jonathan Raymond’s response: “It’s not a list you want to have a school recognized on. We’re obviously disappointed about that. But looking at the numbers and the data, it’s not a surprise.”
For the sake of the students, parents, teachers, and administrators of Oak Ridge Elementary School, I hope having their school on “the list of the state’s lowest-performing schools” will not lead the site backwards into “the genteel unteaching of America’s poor.”
In the 140 classrooms studied, both low- and high-achieving students learned most in mathematics, reading, and writing, when teachers emphasized conceptual understanding, complex problem solving, advanced skills and performances, discussions of alternative solutions and points of views, extended writing, and student-generated ideas and products rather than restricted skills practice.” Linda Darling-Hammond, The Right to Learn
I pulled Linda Darling-Hammond‘s book off my book shelf a couple of weeks ago, when I first saw, via Facebook, her name as a suggested candidate for US Secretary of Education. She has been one of my favorite voices of reason since I was first introduced to her research about 10 years ago. In a nutshell, she has her finger on the pulse of teaching in a test-driven climate. I allowed myself to be swept away with visions of “what if…” What if we had a scholar, a dynamic researcher, and a practitioner advising the President?!?
Since the announcement of Arne Duncan as our new Secretary of Education, I’ve been in a bit of a tailspin. Two recent articles by Gary Stager and Alfie Kohn (thanks to Nancy Ludu for sending me this link) sum up my disappointment.