Revive the Dream
Just a few weeks ago, I organized and hosted the April session for Revive the Dream. Our 2013 Fellows were lucky to spend the evening with Josh Anderson, a long-time Executive Director of Teach for America. The topic of the evening was talent in the education field.
We kicked off the session discussing Josh’s background as well as the reading. To prep for ourdiscussion, I sent a few articles to the group in advance of the session.
The discussion around talent in the education space is always hot topic. On one hand everyone knows about the importance of having great teachers and inspiring leaders in the education space. After all, strong leaders can often change everything for students, especially those on the cusp. Students who don’t have enough resources at home. Students who might be behind a grade or two. And students who need someone to ignite the fire within them.
That said, the incentives to enter the education space, especially as a teacher aren’t always great. Not only is the pay lower than a majority of other fields, but the prestige is also lower. Furthermore, the work can be hard and grueling and at times it feels like you can’t have an impact if you’re in a big school sytem.
On the other hand, we can look to countries like Finland that have figured out the dilemma. Countries who attract and retain the most promising people to enter into teaching programs. Countries that not only pay them well but also provide them with a platform to make change. One program that does that in the US is Teach for America. They recruit the best and the brightest undergrads to teach in underserved schools but the program’s main criticism is that the teachers rarely stay in the field and in the profession. We addressed that and much more in our discussion with Josh.
Just yesterday, we hosted the fifth session for the Revive the Dream Fellows Program. Our Fellows were lucky to spend the evening with Melinda Spooner (Executive Director of Achievement Network) and Melissa Zaikos (CEO of Intrinsic Charter Schools). The topic of the evening was Technology and the Common Core.
The discussion about Common Core is always a good one no matter what side of the fence you sit on. We kicked off the session discussing the Pros and Cons before the speakers got to the room to get the discussion going. To prep for that discussion, I sent a few articles to the group in advance of the session, including these below:
New York Times article on the common core
The Atlantic article on the Schoolmaster
USA Today Article on Bill Gates and the Myths of the common core
The debate goes something like this:
On the positive side, the Common Core standards will allow states to know how they are doing. They can compare standardized test scores against other states, increase the standards and rigor in the classroom. This means that the student should be better prepared for college and likewise, it means that over time all states will theoretically have the same level or rigor, so if a student moves to a new city, county or state, the level of education elsewhere will be simillar.
On the other hand, many people think that this is easier said than done. That the execution is not only difficult but perhaps impossible. Not only will the standard be a tough adjustment for students but also for the teachers initially. It is not the way many teachers are used to teaching and now they are being asked to change their style and content and get evaluated on it. Likewise it’s also not the level of learning students have been asked to do for the past three decades. Moreover, there is not a good plan in place for students with special needs and the standards don’t do much to account for different starting points of students.
On the other hand, some people remained optimistic, understanding these challenges are similar to those that come with running any school, and making change in the education space. They realize that there is a lot of work to be done, and increasing standards of learning is one step we need to get there, among others.
We talked about all of these hard topics and more in our session last night with Melinda and Melissa. Thanks to programs like Revive the Dream and Education Matters we hope to continue to help spread ideas about the issues equip up and coming leaders to solve these education issues over time.
Thanks to Melinda and Melissa for coming to speak to our Fellows.
* Below is a photo of Melissa Zaikos speaking to the group about her time at CPS and her role as CEO at Intrinsic Schools
* Below is a photo Melinda Spooner speaking to the group about her role as Executive Director of the Achievement Network in Chicago.
Earlier this week, we hosted the second Revive the Dream seminar. Our Fellows were lucky to spend the evening with charter school founder and former Teaching Fellow, Micki O’Neil. The issue we discussed, is whether kids in charter schools are better off than kids in traditional public schools.
The debate is a good one. Some people argue yes, pointing to top charter schools in Chicago, such as KIPP and Noble. Likewise, people also point to the higher average high school graduation rate. On the other hand, there are also others who argue that kids are not better off in charter schools as a whole, arguing that there are more bad charter schools than good ones, that there isn’t enough data to demonstrate college graduation or general success, and that student performance on tests and homework in chartersoften times isn’t any better than their public school counterparts.
About a year ago this panel discussed the issue. It’s worth the watch if you have an extra hour. The panelists ranged from the President of the Illinois Charter Network (“INCS”), who you might guess was an advocate of the charter system, to a member (or former member) of the Teachers’ Union, to Professors Charles Payne a more neutral voice, from the Unviersity of Chicago.
Thanks to Micki for graciously accepting our invite to visit and talk in more detail about the charter debate as well as discuss her model at the charter school she recently founded, Foundations College Prep.
Here are a few photo shots from the session.
*This is Micki discussing her charter model at Foundations Prep
* This is Micki presenting stats on charter schools versus CPS
I was lucky enough to spend the evening with 22 extraordinary people from around Chicago. They are part of the new Revive the Dream cohort I helped recruit, and program that I’ll be organizing/managing this year. I’ll be sharing some of the Fellows experiences along the way.
In the meantime, you can see a few photos I took last night along with many of the talented folks in the program. We also had the pleasure of having charter school founder John Horan join us for part of the session. Lots of really great things to come so stay tuned.
This is a photo of one of our guest speakers John Horan. I am glad he accepted our invite.
This is a photo of our Fellows at work. They were looking at Chicago stats for persistence through college. Looks like we picked a great class.