Good news via the mayor’s Web site:
The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), founded 25 years ago by renowned educator Theodore R. Sizer, is moving into its new offices on 325 Public Street, co-located with Big Picture Learning at the Met School’s Public Street campus in South Providence.
“The Coalition of Essential Schools is a great resource for educators who are committed to thoughtful teaching and learning practices—not just for Providence but throughout the country. We are thrilled to have the CES establish new headquarters in the Capital City, and we look forward to their partnership in improving the education of all of our students,” said Mayor Angel Taveras.
That’s a positive sign, but I’m left wondering how much of the progressive education model is actually being embraced.
Last weekend the Coalition hosted its annual Fall Forum. Speakers discussed the problems with current education policy, such as that being promoted by Education Commissioner Gist. What concerns Providence parents is that a focus on high-stakes test taking turns schools into what Fall Forum speaker, Alfie Kohn called “glorified test taking centers.” The question for parents is not so much reform as it is which reform and by which method. Here’s Kohn (“Speakers decry test-taking factories,” Projo 11/13/2011 – not available online):
“Education has become like the old Listerine commercial,” Kohn said. “If it tastes bad, you know it’s working. Traditional education is as unproductive as it [is] unappealing”…
“These types of schools,” Kohn said, “squeeze the intellectual life out of the classroom and victimize the very kids who most need an education that is engaging.”Kohn may be what Projo calls an “education contrarian,” but he’s in good company in the continuous improvement world. Process improvement guru, W. Edwards Deming was once interviewed by a group of educators who asked him, what to measure to improve student performance?. So what was his response?Dr. Deiming: Don’t measure. For heaven’s sake, I’ve been trying to say, “DON’T MEASURE.” Whatever you can measure is inconsequential.What’s important according to Deming is to “restore and nurture the yearning for learning that the child is born with” (for more I encourage you to read this section of “The New Economics For Industry, Government & Education”). That’s exactly the type of reform Kohn is talking about. Let’s just hope the mayor is listening.