Larry Myatt's blog

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?

Boston's "Golden Era" 1995-2005

In the context of big-city school systems, beset as they are by the challenges of budget, leadership stability, struggling families, political in-fighting, union-management disaccord and the legacy of racism and poverty, Boston experienced what one might call a decade of unique opportunity and favorable circumstances. From 1995-2005 the city was home to a ground-breaking union contract, the schools had the support and attention of a new, “Education Mayor”, and perhaps most importantly, enjoyed a virtually unprecedented sense of continuity with the tenure of Thomas Payzant, a highly-respected superintendent and former Assistant Secretary of Education. A new School Committee, appointed by the Mayor, was anxious to bring the city’s policies in line with a recently-passed state Education Reform Act and to help counter any potential impact from the new Charter School movement.

First Sizer Fellows to Convene

Fellowships to honor Theodore and Nancy Sizer

Last spring, I was asked by my fellow Forum Conveners to take the lead in initiating the activities of the first cohort of the Sizer Fellows.

The project is intended to commemorate the work of the late Theodore Sizer and his wife, Nancy, themselves both original Conveners.

After several months of interviewing, visiting, networking and plain old prowling, we are pleased to announce that the first cohort of the fellows will be introduced in next month’s Forum for Education and Democracy newsletter and on our website.

Support Sanders' Secondary School Re-entry Act

Those of you in and around schools have noticed that it’s been increasingly challenging to try to keep students until graduation over the last few years.

Drop-out rates in many states have soared to their highest levels since the mid-1990’s.
The continuing increase in families living in or near the poverty level has been a major factor, exacerbated by almost a decade of on-going budget cuts at the school and district levels and the migration of services away from much-needed social/emotional supports to more purely “academic” programming, i.e., core subjects that will be tested. Enforcement of "zero-tolerance" policies has prematurely pushed struggling students out of schools and into the juvenile justice system.

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.

Why We're Still "At Risk"

In his recent Ed Week commentary, Ron Wolk has once again given us reason to admire his stamina and longevity, and his ability to see the forest through the trees. His intellect and presence have provided a common sense orientation for several generations of educators and policy makers. In this latest essay, he couples each of the faulty assumptions he identifies with clear reminders about how young people really learn, how teachers grow and thrive, and how the easy appeal of certain slogans and goals has led us away from the pragmatic solutions we must pursue now more than ever.

The Dropout Crisis as an Opportunity

When I was working as a principal, my staff and I knew the importance of students getting off to a good start. For the most part, the kids made it easy. After a summer off, most were anxious to socialize, show their stuff, and make a good impression on their classmates and teachers. Many, particularly those for whom school wasn’t easy, were looking for a second chance, a way to break from the failures and disappointments of the past.  

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