The traditional mechanisms set in place many decades ago to administer educational programs in the United States are being overwhelmed by the burden to reform our public schools. As such, a top down administrative hierarchy of controlling entities continuously demands accountability for the haphazard distribution of resources and the implementation of capricious policy mandates (dispensed by “outside” experts with little or no standing in your community). When I think about “no child left behind” or “the race to the top” — my heart weeps! These concepts are fundamentally flawed because they originate from the TOP (usually in Washington, D.C.). Each year, the pace of change seems to accelerate–while burdens and responsibilities are (exponentially) placed upon our educators. I am reminded of the saying “taxation without representation”. Unless we reorganize our system of administering resources, training practitioners, and establishing reform initiatives; it troubles me to say that we can expect little success in the coming decade(s).
Oh, now don’t despair! Reverse your thought processes. Reject the top–down administration of dictatorial mandates and grasp for a brass ring of democratic principles. The “race to the top” must be nurtured from the bottom up! We must establish an interconnected framework of autonomous learning communities that are comprised of personnel with expertise which is relevant to the challenges “we” are experiencing.
Autonomous communities of practitioners (comprised of individuals with disciplinary or interdisciplinary expertise) are limited in their ability to influence the development of policies that emanate from beyond their primary networks. Therefore, each communal grouping must select at least one associate as their representative to a building level steering committee. In smaller schools, a single grouping may encompass all of the practitioners in a building (e.g. elementary practitioners). As a logical progression of the concept, one or more members from the steering committee in each school building should be nominated to serve on a district-level steering committee. Moving beyond the establishment of Democratic frameworks at the local level, representatives from various school districts ought to be organized into “influential” region and/or state bodies that contribute to the development of public policies. Such an effort will require a fundamental shift in how we conceptualize our system of schooling. It will also require changes in how we train practitioners. Accordingly,…
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