Public education in the United States is at a critical juncture. Decades of public attention and reform have yielded few measurable results. “Nontraditional” public schools, alternative routes to teacher certification, and a reduced role for human judgment in teacher-evaluation models are just a few of the examples of a waning trust in educators. What’s more, federal policymakers are years overdue in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act), and all of this comes amid a changing cultural and technological landscape that has dramatically redefined centuries-old definitions of information and knowledge.
Oh, and we should probably mention the recession, which has caused some of the greatest drops in state education budgets our generation has seen.
As we consider this troubling picture, there is hope in an unexpected place: district offices. District offices are full of successful former teachers and principals who signed up for a district role in hopes of helping schools improve. Sadly, these reform resources are often underleveraged. Ask a teacher or principal what role the district has played in improving teaching and learning, and you’ll likely get a blank look. Ask district folks whether they feel their expertise and experience are fully leveraged by schools, and
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