Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Time for Learning – It Takes Leadership

Yesterday I talked about an elementary school in California where teachers have gone to great lengths to give students more time for learning.  I applauded them, but said it was a shame they had to make so many sacrifices to do it.

That’s why I think we need strong leadership to help schools do what’s right.  Let me swing over to the other side of the country to give an example.

Recently Massachusetts became the first state to begin offering schools support to expand time for learning—about 30% more time.  It’s still just a pilot program, but it’s a smart example of how leaders can help schools do this.

One smart thing they did is decide not to just add some time on at the end of the school day.  Instead, they told schools get creative about using all of their time better.

There are four kinds of things those schools are doing:  better instruction in subjects like math, reading, science … more personal attention for students … enrichment in areas like art, drama, music, debate ... planning time so teachers can work together to improve learning.

That way, schools don’t have to make tradeoffs to boost math and reading – like narrowing the curriculum or giving up teacher planning time.

The Boston Globe Magazine did a top-notch job telling this story a few weeks ago, better than I can.  I really encourage you to read it.

But as you do, ask yourself this – How can we get that kind of bold leadership at the national level?  That’s the kind of debate question we should be asking all the presidential candidates.

It would be a shame if teachers, parents, and students in other states never got opportunities like this.


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