Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Comments by David Steiner, former NYS Education Commissioner

Former NYS ed commissioner David Steiner with some great insights (my emphasis added):

What is thus surprising about Ripley's book is how little it contains that is really news; instead, it serves to remind us in powerful terms that we simply haven't acted on what we already know. Education systems work when-

• Students are challenged with demanding and coherent curricula,
• Teachers are recruited from the top echelon of college graduates,
• We tell the truth to students about their performance, and
• Teachers, students, and parents are all committed to the difficult work of constant educational progress.

…The lesson for those who would reform American education is clear. We are right to work for higher standards and better teacher preparation; it's smart to realize that grit and self-discipline and determination matter alongside grades and test scores. But in the end, we simply have to do what we seem to find most difficult: teach demanding material well and not constantly underestimate our students' capacity to rise to the challenge. This means creating a teaching profession that draws in our best, and asking those teachers to teach a rigorous curriculum that progressively habituate our students to serious thinking, mastery of complex skills, and sustained study-habits. Ultimately, this is what it will take to build an effective progression from Pre-K to college and/or careers.

…In the end, if we are serious about preparing a far higher percentage of our students for college-readiness, we have to get serious about being serious. This means, above all, telling the truth: the truth about how little, academically speaking, we demand of our students, how poorly we select and prepare their teachers, how ineffectively we fund education, and how little effort too many of us make to work with our children to ensure that they come to see sustained hard work as the vital path to a better future.

 Subscribe in a reader