It’s fair to say that after our recreational governors, many schools in Massachusetts need help. Some buildings need repair or replacement, many children need early education and full-day kindergarten, and our public higher education needs investment. But beyond the list of education issues that need to be addressed, there is the question of how to address them. Do we go with a top-down method? Or do we get some wisdom from the bottom up?
Primary and secondary schools are asked to do more and more in the same limited amount of time. Teachers need the time, the flexibility in work rules, and the support to innovate and experiment. Kids are also hungry for the attention of their teachers. So, we will reduce class size and lengthen the school day to provide more instructional time, and we will coordinate after-school programs so that students have access to enrichment and tutoring opportunities that complement the academic curriculum. Teachers will have the support, compensation and professional development to enhance their performance and job satisfaction, and administrators will have the tools, training and authority to be accountable for performance at their schools.
Notice the emphasis on innovation and experiment by the teachers themselves, the people who would be the first to notice when a technique helps the students learn. Notice the emphasis on the relationship between students and teachers–students need that attention, so they can get personalized direction for their learning.
This is not the old style of government ordering nostrums down the chain of command–this is government helping educators bring progress to education. This is leadership that respects the people who want to do their work better, and honors their efforts by helping them make progress.
This is a vision that provides hope.