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Leading to Reform: December 16

This week’s Leading to Reform highlights a year end reflective perspective 2012 comes to a close. We will look at reform work, game changing leadership, a ethical approach to RTI, prospects for more state’s increasing school funding and a new proposal to split up urban school districts. As always, we link to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform.

Learning from LeBron – Game Changer Leadership
LeBron James has changed professional basketball by his decisions. One of his most controversial moves off the court recently was his decision to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh,  “taking his talents” to Miami to form a super team in the Heat. James took a lot of criticism from the media and fans for this decision, and how it was publicized, but no one can dispute that his decision changed the free agent game. He could have made more money with other teams or gone to a team where he was clearly “the man”. Instead, he chose to go to a team where he would be one of three superstars in Miami. It is a team where he thought he would win an NBA title, something that was missing in his illustrious career. He was rewarded this past season with a championships ring and Miami is set up to be a contender for years to come. His game-changing decision can also be measured by the effects it has had on other players. Superstar Dwight Howard has already followed a similar path by forcing a trade to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers from the New York Knicks, attempting to pull together a team to rival the Heat. Learn more on becoming a game changer...

Districts Respond to Newtown Tragedy
In times like this, parents expect educators to hear their concerns and to be responsive to them. Those schools and districts who issued a statement or communicated to parents and staff about their campus security following Friday morning’s tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut show that they are in tune with their stakeholders. In the wake of this tragedy, it is critical for school leaders to stress the important role our schools have in keeping our students and schools safe.
How did your school react?

The Ethical Literacy Connection to Response to Intervention
Schools can teach the skills for empathy. Social Emotional Development is the bedrock for growing kids with strong decision and citizenship skills. The Institute for Global Ethics takes the skill building to a higher level for complex, real world situations. ”Response to Intervention” approaches have been gaining traction in our schools; as they target academics and behavior in a whole child, whole school philosophy to learning and discipline.  Many schools have taken up “Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support” in a similar vein. 

Dr. Lori Vollandt, Coordinator, Health Education Programs, Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools Los Angeles Unified School District, and Ethical Fitness trainer, discussed the many ways that building a school culture of integrity can advance positive intervention efforts in our schools.
To learn more, watch the video below:

State's Funding for K-12 May Not Increase
Despite some positive signs that could help school budgets, states are still facing a shaky financial environment as they head into the new year--a circumstance that could disappoint advocates hoping that even sluggish economic progress could give K-12 funding a boost. Federal funds aren’t likely to increase and more states than ever are looking at performance based measures to address school funding increases linked to better schools.

Many school boards and district leaders want and protect the status quo – because it is what they know and makes a difficult job a bit more manageable. They continue to operate on the assumption that more state aid is forthcoming, without any changes in how their District’s deploy state funds and if they get results.

Keep an eye on how your school or district leaders plan for next year’s budget – especially if they are optimistic about more state funding coming in and not making any changes in how they spend those funds. Especially if they aren’t spending the money on kids first.

Do you agree or disagree?

Big Disruption to Washington D.C. Public Schools – Is it Good for Urban School Districts?
Education reformers in Washington D.C. are looking at how to jump start high achieving schools with a radical shift in how schools are lead and governed. The DC public schools would be split into two: Charter Schools would rule the lower income neighborhoods while public schools would thrive in affluent neighborhoods where achievement remains high The current superintendent could keep her title of D.C. schools chancellor but get a different and more powerful assignment. She would sit atop three separate entities, the old D.C. school system, the D.C. charters and a collection of private schools willing to meet certain achievement goals in return for some support. She would not run these schools, but would reward and punish those in charge. She would have the power to start new schools and close old ones.

Jay Mathews asks the hard question:
Are DC Public Schools that bad that they resort to a public, charter and private realignment of schools? What about other cities?

Articles for the Week:

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”--Benjamin Franklin

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