Prepared Text for Board Meeting –
Marc A. Schare
I want to make a brief statement about High School Reform in general. First, to be clear, there is a lot to like about all of the proposals we’ve seen. The proposals that have been approved by district administration will materially change the lives of hundreds of kids in the next few years and do so in a very cost effective fashion. The teachers creating these proposals have done yeoman’s work to make this a reality.
But.. I have two lingering concerns. They are not concerns about any of these programs but rather, they involve process.
The first concern is that this board has not been involved at all in the approval process of these new programs and to be sure, there are policy decisions imbedded in some of these proposals. The one that I would seek to have input into is the policy decision whether or not to charge for credit recovery, however, I would hope that this and future boards have the opportunity for input into reform efforts at all three levels.
My second concern is more substantive. There are volumes written about high school reform and the phrase means something different to everyone in the room. When I first started discussing this issue in 2005, I had envisioned a planning effort that would define what we wanted our district to look like 5 or 10 years out. Change in large organizations is best when it is incremental, so baby steps are good, but baby steps are only good if we are convinced that we are going in the right direction. I’m not yet convinced because I haven’t seen anything resembling a long term plan for our high schools.
I respect the RFP process
for the creation of small learning communities however, if we attempt to do
this year after year, it is likely that we will, after 10 years, have chaos. Indeed, this year alone brings us 2
business programs which, despite the best efforts of the administration and the
creators to differentiate themselves, are similar enough to create confusion,
except that each will probably artificially draw students based on attendance
area rather than program suitability for each student. 10 years from now, will