School Reform: So Many Questions, So Little Time

January 22, 2009 at 7:32 pm 1 comment

posted by BSCAA

Bank Street President Elizabeth Dickey with Niemeyer panelists Tom Payzant, Linda Darling-Hammond, Debbie Meier, Louis Delgado and Alec Gershberg

Bank Street President Elizabeth Dickey with Niemeyer panelists Tom Payzant, Linda Darling-Hammond, Debbie Meier, Louis Delgado and Alec Gershberg

Last night, Bank Street hosted a wonderful panel discussion that had been planned since last summer, long before we knew who would win the presidential election. “School Reform: Where have we been and where should we be going? Some lessons for a new American President” was a timely topic given the possibilities ahead of us now that Barack Obama is President Obama. Attended by alumni, graduate students, and Bank Street staff, faculty and friends, as well as members of the public, the Niemeyer Series brought together renowned scholars, school leaders, and educational reformers to discuss policy and practice.  Elizabeth Green, who writes about NYC schools for a blog called GothamSchools, posted a substantive piece called The future of school policy, if Darling-Hammond has her way in which she describes and analyzes some of the thoughts and ideas shared during the panel discussion.

Led by Deborah Meier, educational reform leader and senior scholar at NYU Steinhardt School of Education, the panel included Dr. Thomas W. Payzant, professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, former Assistant Secretary of Education, and retired Superintendent of Boston Public Schools; Dr. Linda Darling Hammond, Charles Ducommon Professor of Education at Stanford University School of Education and one of President Obama’s top education advisors; Louis Delgado, principal of Vanguard High School, New York City; and Alec Gershberg, Associate Professor, Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy, and graduate of Bank Street School for Children.

Audience members wrote a variety of interesting questions, most of which could not be addressed by our panel members in the limited time we had together.  SO…please join this conversation! Choose a question. Write a comment. Let’s keep talking about how we can improve our schools.

The Niemeyer Series Panel Discussion Questions

  • How do you “return” teaching to a high status in a capitalist society? Is this not a contradiction?
  • Obama supports Harlem Children’s Zone. What are your thoughts about this early childhood program?
  • Because our students are often starting out behind, would it be possible to use a “pre-test” and “post-test” model to measure student growth and teacher success?
  • As policy makers, how do you create the space/time for reform efforts to take effect in the context of term limits, brief tenures of leaders of school systems, plus the short attention span of the American public?
  • Parental income is, I’ve read, the statistic most predictive of student achievement. Is it unrelated to class? Is this causal? What do we do about it?
  • Can you comment on the replication of the model given by the National Center for Arts and Technology? (Manchester Bidwell in Pittsburg, PA)
  • What does the future hold for the arts in public schools? How can we protect drama, dance, music and visual arts programs?
  • What advice can you offer a teacher leader, who wants to initiate a shift towards providing a multi-cultural education in her K-8 school?
  • How do performance-based assessments get built in to NCLB?
  • Comment on Arne Duncan’s “Business” model.
  • With the end goal of putting more and better teachers in classrooms, what can be done to help professional teachers?
  • How important is the national leadership? How will we get change in education when Obama’s choice to lead us, Arne Ducan, has pushed more testing, privatization, vouchers, etc. all in the name of school “reform”?
  • High level assessment systems are expensive to create and to evaluate/score. How do you propose that we make the shift of budget allocations from schools to test development administration/scoring palatable to the public? Or do you think there is enough money for it to be added to existing funding?
  • How can teachers at all schools become accountable?
  • What three things must be done to improve teacher training?
  • Dear Panelists, describe a high quality teacher. I was a lawyer, became a teacher, and quit within the first month at my first school this year. A Masters degree does not guarantee any more success when it comes to quality teaching. Teachers are in serious college debts due to this belief. Is it time to rethink this misconception?
  • President Johnson said: “Our People can stand on no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any more hopeful room than the classroom.” When, where and how did this ideal of education diminish?
  • You all describe very exciting visions of a revitalized educational system of professional accountability for all children’s success. In this system, how will you measure teacher effectiveness? How frequently? Will tenure exist? Under what conditions?
  • Why should we trust/believe that Ed. Secretary Duncan understands education and the needs of our children?
  • Don’t tell me what works in small, homogeneous, quasi-socialistic countries. Tell me what we can do here.
  • Federal education policy can serve as the carrot or the stick for state and local policy. Which levers do you see making the greatest difference in the quality of teachers in our schools, especially city schools?
  • What would it take and what can we do to further “authentic assessment” across the U.S.?
  • What role can/should those of us “in the trenches” in classrooms and in leadership positions in schools play in responding to this accountability movement and in trying to reshape the conversation’s direction?
  • Can the panel speak to the role of unions in education reform? It often seems that the Right and Left want the same thing out of education reform and the unions get in the way.

Entry filed under: democratic education, dialogue, equity, leadership, policy, politics, school reform, standardized testing, standards.

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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