What’s wrong with conversation? Certainly, communication is important, but action is far more important. Although the nation has been involved in conversations about race, especially since the murder of George Floyd, we have seen too many schools and districts focusing only on the conversation and not on essential changes in behavior. It doesn’t matter, for example, if educators and administrators are suddenly using more sensitive language and express genuine contrition for bias and racism, if they persist in practices and policies that continue to work to the dissaving of black and brown students. Consider just three examples of practices and policies that must change: Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and grading practices. These programs are often as segregated now as they were 50 years ago, with white students in Gifted and Talented programs, enrolled in AP classes, and featured prominently on the honor roll, while black and brown students receive perpetual remediation. Read more
Douglas Reeves, PhD, is the author of more than 40 books and more than 100 articles on leadership and education. He has twice been named to the Harvard University Distinguished Authors Series and was named the Brock International Laureate for his contributions to education.
This entry is the ninth in a blog series called Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP), which aims to highlight and further the important work educators are doing amid the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.
With almost all schools in the United States and Canada closed, and countless more around the world, leaders and policymakers share a legitimate concern about educational equity in grading. While some students have been able to continue their lessons with online learning, many others cannot. Some families lack computers and internet connectivity. Other families have a computer and internet service, but with parents and siblings all competing for the same computer and bandwidth, it is almost impossible for any individual child to have continuous access to online learning. Read more
Our book, 100-Day Leaders, makes the case for immediate change—change that can take place in a single semester. We argue that change must take place now, just as the US Constitution, one of Dostoevsky’s best novels, and some of the world’s best music were all created within 100 days. This is not just one more leadership strategy; it’s a moral imperative.
Imagine that you took your child to kindergarten and the principal said, “We’re working on a great literacy program, and we expect to fully implement it in five to seven years because, after all, that’s how long it takes for effective change.” You might say, “Thanks a heck of a lot, but my five-year-old child will be 12, and it’s a bit late at that point for your hot, new literacy program to become effective!” Read more
I recently received a question from a teacher who was concerned that her colleagues, who were opposed to changes in grading systems, insisted that in the real world, it was essential to get things right the first time. Therefore, her colleagues claimed, the average, along with draconian punishments for failures, were appropriate grading policies.
“Straighten up, Mary!” I said sternly. “I know that it’s your 3rd birthday party, but in just a couple of years you’re going to be in kindergarten, and I hear that they are pretty tough there. So from now on, you can’t just go to the bathroom whenever you feel like it, but you’ll need to raise your hand and stand in line. And all of those bedtime stories, Saturday pancakes, and stuffed animals? You’re not going to get any of that at Lincoln Elementary School, so forget about them! We’re going to toughen you up now so you’ll be ready for your next level of education.” Sound ridiculous? Not any more than the excuses for toxic practices at every level of schooling, all in the name of “getting them ready” for the next level of education.