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Leading to Reform: October 14

This Week’s letter highlights how leadership is more a matter of subtraction rather than more, things Steve Jobs teaches us, finding time for poetry in a leader’s day, civic mission of schools, after school programing and what California can learn from the Chicago Public Schools drama. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform.

Be Happier in Business and in Life
Happiness -- in your leadership life and your personal life -- is often a matter of subtraction, not addition. Consider, for example, what would happen if you stop blaming, whining or fearing. Time Magazine has ten things you can do right now to be happier in your work and life.
Learn More...

Ten Things Steve Jobs Taught Us
Can’t get enough of Steve Jobs stories? Here are 10 things CNN readers said they learned from the former Apple CEO whose death on October 5, 2011 continues to cause many people to reflect on his life, work and leadership.
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From the Sunday Papers…

What Poetry Teaches Us About the Power of Persuasion
Dorthea Lasky, recently wrote in The Atlantic that all students can write if we let them. She says that we should make sure students have the space in schools to learn that they can write, and develop a lifelong passion for words.

Lasky believes that poetry is the way to do this. Logic and grammar are important she says. But, for students to truly own the English language, they need to read and write poems. Every outstanding essay involves meticulous word choice and sheer aesthetic prowess. Poetry teaches students how to do this. The problem is that too many leaders need to find some space in their day for poetry and the answer will be clear.
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What California Schools Can Learn From Chicago
California voters have a voice in the direction of their public schools. Will they buy into the struggling schools they have now or will they look closely at Los Angeles, where the only hope for change comes from competitive school alternatives, and at Chicago, where a Democratic mayor could finally draw a line with the teachers union?
Learn More…

Milwaukee’s Public Policy Forum’s After-school Program Report
The Public Policy Forum created an informative report outlining the quality and scope of after-school programs in Milwaukee. Read the 13-page report focusing on the main findings, which are:
  1. There is great diversity of type and settings among Milwaukee's after-school programs.
  2. There appears to be considerable variance in quality among the programs.
  3. A one-size-fits-all approach to quality improvement may not be the best solution, due to this diversity and uneven quality.
You can read the full report here...

Civic Funding Found Lacking in Most States
Civic education is often talked about by policy makers and very little of it finds its’ way to the classroom. Students need to be taught civics in a more modern way that is engaging and appropriate to the world they live in.

"The main problem with civic education, when it happens, is that it tends to reflect civic values that young people seldom embrace—the old 20th-century model of dutiful citizenship," Mr. Bennett said. "Since most teachers, policymakers, and curriculum developers grew up with that model, they often do not appreciate the gap that is created with more peer-oriented, experiential, and digitally mediated forms of engagement preferred by young people.

Policy makers discuss and write papers. School leaders and teachers are not doing much to promote student interest in the elections or provide civic education more broadly,
says new research. Learn More...

Education Week Spotlights English-language Learners in the Classroom
Education Week published a collection of articles working with English Language Learners in schools. Increasingly teachers and school leaders have more students who need language instruction. This is a fact of life in rural, urban and suburban schools and many policy makers and board members are struggling to redeploy the necessary resources to support these young people away from traditional school programs. Choices are difficult but these kids need our attention now:
  • Intensive English-language learner training for core-content teachers
  • Engaging native and nonnative speakers in dual-language classrooms
  • 'Shadowing' ELLs as teacher professional development
  • Using attendance and grades as early warning signs for ELL dropouts
  • Preparing English-language learners for the complex challenges of the common-core curriculum
  • Identifying the best research and instructional strategies for ELLs
You can get all nine articles from Education Week as a PDF, click here.

Articles for the Week:

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."--Steve Jobs

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