How to use research & common sense, community, time, and democracy to rebuild schools

Research-Based Expectations for Implementation of the Community Schools Initiative in New York City

Research offers strong cautions against claims of miraculous school change. Instead, changing a school’s culture and practices in sustainable ways that improve student learning takes years of commitment by all stakeholders in the school.

Attempts to dramatically turn around schools to show quick improvements in student outcomes are often counterproductive, resulting instead in school conditions associated with persistently low performance.

Many quick school turnarounds, like those initiated via the federal School Improvement Grant program, were associated with unintended, negative outcomes such as high teacher turnover, large numbers of inexperienced teachers, administrative instability, poor school and classroom climate, and socioeconomic segregation.

In contrast, reform efforts grounded in the idea of sustained improvement over time are more likely to improve student achievement along with other critical aspects of the school.

The evidence is clear: in the first three to four years, schools generally achieve only partial implementation of complex change efforts, with full implementation taking upwards of five to 10 years.

Part of the challenge in turning around schools is that outside-of-school factors likely account for twice as much of the variance in student outcomes as do inside-of-school factors.

Accordingly, the community schools approach—one of the most prominent and research-based approaches to sustained reform—addresses the academic, social-emotional, and health needs of children as well as the capacity to systemically meet these needs in communities of concentrated poverty.

To read and download the full report go here: National Education Policy Center (NEPC): Also posted by the WordPress blog Seattle Education

WBUR Commentary: Why One First Grade Teacher Is Saying Goodbye

David Weinstein has taught first grade at the Pierce School in Brookline for 29 years. He’s gifted, dedicated and beloved — so I was stunned to find out that he is retiring, early.

In his early 50s, he’s leaving as the Brookline schools are immersed in contentious contract negotiations, largely about the data and documentation workload for teachers. This isn’t just a Brookline issue — it’s part of the national story of education reform.

Weinstein says it’s the main reason he’s stepping down. Even in a progressive town with an acclaimed public school system, he says, the paperwork is overwhelming.

I guess the big-picture problem is that all this stuff we’re talking about here is coming from on top, from above, be it the federal government, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the school administration. But the voices of teachers are lost. I mean, nobody talks to teachers. Or, if they do talk to teachers, they’re not listening to teachers.       — David Weinstein

My Class in Verse

By Calli P. Tuttle


She smiles.

She glowers.

A caramel raven flower.

A salty sour candy.

She is unique.

Unaware of the future she could attain.

Distancing herself from the sun.


He lights up the room.

He makes it look easy.

An imperfect perfection seeking his own way.

A path that diverges and yields opportunities.

He is unique.

Where will his talents take him if he chooses to hide them?

What will the world lose?


He is tranquility.

He is silent.

A follower with a good sense of direction.

A quiet thinker that safeguards secrets.

He is unique.

His friends and companions appreciate his balance.

Equilibrium is his legacy not to be forgotten.


He hurts.

He hides.

A strong facade to hide the gentle heart.

A diamond cracking from the pressure.

He is unique.

Where is his clan that will hold him aloft and bear him up?

Can this young man find his harbor?


He acts.

He performs.

A maladaptive spectacle for approval always burning the audience.

A confusion always seeking to not understand.

He is unique.

Will confidence and confidence ever enter him?

Will bridges manage to withstand his self-destruction?


She endeavors.

She strives.

A joy to friends and authorities.

A dulcet tenderness that diffuses tension.

She is unique.

Ever in favor, will she withstand true storms?

She shall unwittingly build a fortress of companions that will protect her.


She giggles.

She radiates.

A luminance of joy that brightens her friends.

A levity that shines for the world.

She is unique.

Will the wolves devour her innocence?

Will the world protect her?


He follows.

He is blind.

A victim seeking strength but following the weakest course.

A sadness seeking levity but continuing to fall.

He is unique.

Will the downhill path reach upward?

Will a drop of water rise to the sky?




There needs to be two sides to the debate…

Diane Ravitch: There were all of these state reports coming out from right-wing groups like Students First and the American Legislative Exchange Council arguing that the definition of success is getting rid of public education and taking away any right that teachers might have. These create a climate when there is report card after report card agreeing that the future should be privately managed [charter] schools. There is nobody on the other side other than the unions, which are immediately discredited. There need to be two sides to the debate. Right now [the education conversation] is presented as what Students First is promoting is all that works. (Excerpt from para. 8 of the Mother Jones article cited below.)

Mother Jones magazine: Here’s a New Way to Judge Your State’s Schools
By Kristina Rizga | Thu Feb. 4, 2016

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