December 19, 2011
WCEC is excited to announce that minigrants are now available to participants of the colloquium series. The grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 apiece, and are designed to be used to craft and implement strategies that reflect the lessons learned from the series.
By now, you should have received application instructions in your email. If you have not, or if you have any questions, please contact Martha Hebert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurry! The deadline for your proposals is Feb. 20, 2012.
December 14, 2011
The New York Times covers Pasi Sahlberg's visit to the Upper West Side's Dwight School as the debate continues amid the critiquing of the U.S. public school system, and whether the Finnish model raises the possibility of change here. Be sure not to miss the oblique reference to his participation in WCEC.
December 06, 2011
Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Finland Ministry of Education shared the lessons his country learned as it went through the growing pains of reform to emerge as one of the world's best education systems.
"I am not here to tell you that if you do everything we've done for the last 30 years, and you'll be the best in the world. It doesn't work like this," he said. Instead, Sahlberg said, he is sharing the history and strategy so that leaders and educators in Illinois and Chicago can learn and adapt lessons that suit their needs.
His presented his remarks at Monday's second session of the World Class Education Colloquium, a collaboration of the brightest minds in the field to improve student outcomes in Illinois and Chicago. The event is hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In fact, Sahlberg said, it is Finland that learned from the U.S. -- going so far as to copy the ideas of American education philosopher John Dewey, the architect of child-centered learning, which are now outmoded in the U.S.
Finland's public-education system is dramatically different from current American practice in many ways, he said. Finland offers dental and health care in its schools, offers no standardized tests and holds shorter school days but longer lessons. Children do not begin classes until age 7 because early-childhood supports are high-quality and plentiful, he said. Plus, Finland has professionalized its teaching staff. Only the top 10 percent of graduating high school classes are accepted into education schools, and only 10 percent of those are accepted. Training is intense, and resembles what doctors and engineers go through in the U.S. Teachers spend more time developing curriculum and learning to teach. Plus, they are paid more as they advance in their skills.
He concluded with three questions for Illinois educators:
- Do you really need all this testing? "Not only in Illinois, but in this great nation?" he asked. "I often ask myself: Do you really need all these tests? We [Finland] know[s] the system is working by sampling students, like with PISA, to show system is producing results like it should.
- Can you do more to improve the well-being of students? "Maybe this is because of the Finnish background...unless we have children in school who are happy, healthy and who have healthy meals and healthy teeth, security and care in a school -- they’re not going to learn. Knowing how many here coming from failing schools are living in poverty ... should we do more for well being, and then assume students will be achiving academically??
- Could vocational options be enhanced? "Do you have true vocation options in schools. Is this something you could think of as part of your education agenda? We reduced the dropout rate dramatically because of this."
You can read his presentation here. We also will soon post interviews and a recording of his 50-minute presentation later on this website. Stay tuned for more.
December 06, 2011
Part of WCEC's goal is to expand your knowledge base of what works to create a world-class education system in Illinois. But WCEC also knows that true reform can't happen unless the ideas are off the page. So The McCormick Foundation will be making competitive mini-grants worth $5,000 to $10,000 each available to the participants of WCEC. We will have more information about how to apply and the deadline ready by mid-December. WCEC will keep you posted about the details.
December 06, 2011
All eyes are on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which the majority of you indicated may be one of the most promising initiative for improving outcomes in Illinois.
Participant Samuel J. Meisels, president of Erikson Institute, however, argues that they may not go far enough.
"But early childhood education — concerned with children from birth to the end of third grade — seems nearly an afterthought in the standards. Not only do they end (or begin) at kindergarten, ignoring more than half of the early childhood age range, they simply don’t fit what we know about young children’s learning and development," he writes in a Nov. 29 guest column in The Washington Post.
You can read the rest of his opinion in The Answer Sheet blog.