Friday, March 19, 2010

JP Morgan Ed Summit

Just about every day there are so many good things happening all over the country and so much good stuff being written that trying to keep up is like drinking from a firehose.


1) I attended the JP Morgan Ed Summit yesterday, which featured Arne Duncan, who ROCKED.  There was nothing news-breaking in his speech, but overall it's crystal clear that he and President Obama really understand and care about this issue, and are willing to spend political capital here (there are, unfortunately, limits however, as the DC voucher program shows…).


He took a few questions from the audience and of course my hand shot up, so first gave him and Obama huge props for standing strong on Central Falls HS and asked whether, in light of the political firestorm, this was likely to be a model that could ever be tried again.  He was careful to say that there are four turnaround models and the "fire all the teachers" model (his words; in my question, I was careful to say "require all of the adults to reapply for their jobs") wasn't always the right answer, but said it had to be on the table. 


He then told a story that I think makes his views clear: when he was superintendent in Chicago, there was a notorious high school in which 60% of students were dropping out – and had this way for 50 years!  He said he shut it down and gave the space to a few smaller schools, including Urban Prep Academy charter school, which he proudly said just got every one of its 107 seniors into 4-year colleges (see below for this amazing story).

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