Arne Duncan addresses education writers
The Education Writers Association conference kicked off yesterday in Washington, and Arne Duncan spoke to our group last night. Some highlights (on issues I didn't talk about last week when I covered his talk at University of Maryland):
-- Unproven programs are "absolutely worth trying." Performance pay is still new in education, but it increases worker productivity in other industries. If we never try new things, we'll never know if they can work.
-- Closing failing schools in Chicago, the saddest part was showing parents the data. No one had ever talked to them, and they didn't know they were the worst in the city.
-- Districts should hold principals accountable for school culture.
-- School districts should be judged on their graduation rate -- and not necessarily a four-year rate. Nothing's wrong with giving a struggling kid extra time. And districts should not be penalized in their statistics for bringing dropouts back.
-- "If there's one word that captures my state of mind these days, it is urgency."
I had the opportunity to briefly meet Duncan after his talk, and he asked me what I think of the work Dr. Alonso is doing in Baltimore. I said it sounds like they share many of the same ideas.