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Making the case for creating a continuous school improvement infrastructure?

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This message is in reply to:
Be careful of what you wish for. - Susan Snyder

Posted by: Mark St. John
Posted on: May 09, 2002 at 12:00 PM
I find all of the discussion here to be very rich and illuminative. Susan is absolutely right about the dilemmas faced by NSF and any other funder. And David and others are right about the need for districts to ante up... And Gail points out how they have, in fact, built an infrastructure in Tucson and that this took many years...

But I think the frustration and limits expressed by all continue to confirm my observation that we are missing a key link... This is not something NSF can do much about least in the short term...Rather I really do believe that a major reconceptualization is needed...So that it is a matter of course that districts and even schools have improvement departments that are funded significantly ( 10% of district revenue) and that are evaluated on the degree to which they are assisting administrators and teachers in improving instruction on an ongoing basis... Why is it even an issue as to whether the Tucson LSC can continue without NSF funding? Because there is no prevailing conceptualization or expectation that districts should spend their money that way... And again I point to San Diego and District 2 where Tony Alvarado has, if nothing else, changed the conceptualization as well as the structures of district work...

I do not have a magical answer about how to make these kinds of deep shifts in how districts and schools work... But I really am becoming increasingly convinced that we are hitting the limits of what we can do with external funding... And let me also say that we all are doing very good work... it is not trivial to create visible examples of program that illustrate how different our educational programs might be... We can and should continue to do this work...But I also hope that we can identify, talk about, and create the possibility of significant improvement infrastructures --- an invention that might greatly enhance the probability of really improving the learning opportunities for millions of students...

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