In a bold???and dare I say inspiring???op-ed to appear in Sunday's Washington Post, 16 school district leaders share a manifesto on ???how to fix our schools.??? The 16 leaders are responsible for educating nearly 2.5 million children and represent a cross-section of America's schools???big name superintendents like Klein, Rhee and Vallas are joined by colleagues like Jean-Claude Brizard from Rochester, Eugene White from Indianapolis and LaVonne Sheffield from Rockford, Illinois.
Unfortunately, no Ohio district leaders signed on, but one would hope the ideas shared in the Post op-ed resonate with reform-minded leaders in cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland, and can even flower in places like Dayton, Youngstown and Canton.
These district reformers acknowledge that too many kids are stuck in failing schools and hit home the point that teacher effectiveness is the most critical factor in improving education. They outline several ideas to address low performance:
- Unshackle district leaders and do away with ???archaic rules involving seniority and academic credentials???;
- Do away with the ???glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher???;
- Fairly measure and reward teacher performance;
- Reward teachers who work in the toughest schools or teach more in-demand subjects like math and science;
- Integrate technology into the classroom so that it can transform instruction; and
- Make charter schools a truly viable option and ensure that excellence is the only criteria for evaluating schools.
Bold reforms indeed, especially coming from on-the-ground leaders who deal with the politics of education reform every minute of every day. These reformers are showing the way, and now it's up to the rest of us???policymakers, state, district, and union leaders, teachers, and parents???to rally to the cause. This is surely a doable agenda for reform; even in Ohio.