Back to School 2012-13: Giving Our Schools More Hope

by Forum Convener Dr. Larry Myatt

It's back-to-school time for many over the next few weeks.  What do most public teachers and students across the nation have to look forward to as they head back for the 2012-13 school year?

Building with "Rammed Earth"

This year I had the great fortune of getting to know some thoughtful charter school leaders from across the country. We were convened in New York City by the Partners for Developing Futures, a group that makes grants to promising charter schools who are led by people of color. Our group visited three schools that were in their early stages of development. The school leaders were using the most thoughtful approaches to working with children who are overwhelmingly poor and from minority backgrounds. Based on my observations of classrooms the students were getting a great education.

The Global Appreciation of Teachers

The first ever International Summit on Teaching, convened last week in New York City, showed perhaps more clearly than ever that the United States has been pursuing an approach to teaching almost diametrically opposed to that pursued by the highest-achieving nations.

How Right He Had It: A Reflection on Ted Sizer and Horace's Compromise

The start of school, the impending anniversary of Ted’s passing and a photograph brought me back in time and provoked me to write this reflection.

Developmental Sciences Critical to Student Achievement

Teacher-education programs should includes the basics of developmental science in their training programs, according to a report released this month by a panel convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teachers Education (NCATE).

The panel, co-chaired by Dr. James P. Comer, a Convener for The Forum for Education and Democracy, found that too few teachers enter the profession with a firm grasp of the importance of developmental sciences on student learning.


This past week I was in Washington to talk with colleagues and friends about the upcoming debates over NCLB.  While I enjoy the city and my friends, it was great to get back to my school just in time for Friday—one of my favorite days.  And it has nothing to do with it being the day before the weekend.

Every other Friday my staff and I meet for what we call ‘planning period meetings’.  Since we are on a semester schedule with long periods this means we have about an hour to talk about our shared work.  During the first semester of the year we read a book together and discuss it.  In the second semester we take on a protocol called ‘looking at student work.’

The Six Standards of School Quality

(Previously published on Valerie Strauss' blog, "The Answer Sheet," in the Washington Post.) 

Years ago, I learned that if you want to communicate with people, it’s best to avoid jargon.

It was my fourth year as principal, and I’d decided to add a portfolio requirement for graduation. After two years of study, meetings, and hearings, we were ready to move forward and decided to share the plan with the entire community. Feeling creative, we decided to put the entire proposal in a booklet and mail it to every district resident.

Then, mistakenly, we decided I would write the booklet.

Giving Teachers the Reins

On October 22, the Forum hosted a panel discussion in Washington, DC about how to invest in the creation of a long-term teaching profession in the United States. The following article about the event, written by Anthony Rebora, appeared in Teacher Magazine. A copy of the Forum's policy brief can be found at http://rethinklearningnow.com/resources/Teaching_Brief_1009_ForumForEd.pdf.

Slow the Preschool bandwagon? Not so fast . . .

What I appreciate about Chester Finn is that he always has some good points to make. But Finn makes one good point and several questionable and fallacious ones in his Washington Post Op-Ed, “Slow the Preschool Bandwagon” (May 15, 2009). The good point is that it would help at-risk children and their families to have intensive support from birth to age five. When this was done in North Carolina’s Abecedarian Project, I.Q. scores rose, special education placement rates fell from 48 percent to 25 percent, and grade retention declined from 55 percent to 31 percent.

New Report Chronicles a "Crisis in the Kindergarten"

The Alliance for Childhood’s  new report, Crisis in the Kindergarten, offers a careful account of what's actually happening in early childhood classrooms across the country.

The news  is frightening.  
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