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« Snow shoeing | Main | Guatemala- The adventure begins »

02/02/2011

Comments

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Brian Sweeney

Being an Outward Bound grad, I am aware of Northwest Passage and the great program you have and your great collaborative outreach with many communities and groups.

However, in a vast majority of charters, we do find, unfortunately, that there is not a good relationship with a district and that, again unfortunately, many schools do operate in a silo, with not only little interaction with the district or district schools but not even much interaction with other charters.

But this is changing in many areas as we are seeing with MPS' Compact in which charters and the district are working closer together.

Keep up your great work.

Regards,

Brian Sweeney
Charter School Partners

Jamie

Brian,

Thanks for the comment. My concern is when we speak in generalities to legislators about the quality of charter schools; it fans the flame of misconceptions. Good evaluation of programs requires multiple measures and a serious commitment for a holistic approach to program quality. Test scores are just one aspect, and in my opinion are given too much weight for one discrete variable.

In addition, I would be interested in the research behind the assertion that charter schools are silos. I would argue that the silo aspect of schooling is not endemic to charters, but also an element of traditional schools. Traditional schools historically are resistant to change despite overwhelming recent evidence that their design does not promote brain based learning models and the need for children to develop autonomy and self-mastery. (See Daniel Pink’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc)

Outward Bound and the tradition of Kurt Hahn relied on the idea that youth were highly capable of doing real work, yet high school design is more custodial in nature. Mr. Hahn would be distressed with the current state of traditional schools.

In an era of open source technology, a serious discussion (beyond the increase of time and school year) of school redesign needs to take place, yet the obsession with test prep and test scores prevent this from occurring, it is a red herring.

We know that there is very little evidence between ACT/SAT scores and college success, and more a factor of socio-economic status. Recently top-notch universities are rethinking even asking for these exams for college admission. Harvard just came out with a recent report questioning the push for college for all (See Pathways to Prosperity, https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf).

What we need is a serious discussion of school design where students are learning 21st century skills, not how to take a test. While our test scores lag behind those in the state, 60% of our student graduates in the last six years have gone to college. Yet this statistic is never discussed in the public dialog. As my momma says, “The proof’s in the pudding, “ not in the individual ingredients.


Jamie

Brian Sweeney

Thanks Jamie,

My wife and I also founded St. Croix Montessori, a pre-k through Grade 6 program in the East metro area. I was director for four years and stayed on the board for many more years. Kids are now older and I have moved on from the board.

Despite our holistic model, I had a fun jocular back and forth with our teachers about taking standardized tests. My argument was that basic tests are pretty darn basic and that this was a PRACTICAL LIFE lesson. Let's have fun with this. I said to teachers 'bet our program will test two years ahead of the local district school'. We were. It became a very non-Montessorian sense of pride with our teachers.

We also veered from some basic Montessori materials when we felt it didn't quite meet the needs of our students, particularly as it related to some early reading programs (Maria Montessori developed an extensive reading program in Italian but not in English).

Great link to Dan Pink. Thanks.

Brian.

Algeria


I really appreciate the fact that you've created your own blog and have actually posted your thoughts. I like your work and feel I can relate to what you've done. Many folks can't even imagine having such talent. I hope that you know how lucky you are. :) Good luck to you in ALL your aspirings. :)

Jamie Steckart

@ Algeria, we feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with youth and their families in a very progressive and student centered school. We envision more schools moving in this direction as outdated models of instruction can no longer deliver the skills necessary for the next century.

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