Tag Archives: CUBE

The Vallas Prescription: Notes from CUBE

This morning was the final keynote of the CUBE summer issues forum, delivered by Paul Vallas, the head of New Orleans’ Recovery School District and former Superintendent of the Chicago and Philadelphia public schools. There are strong feelings about Mr. Vallas — either he is the savior of urban public education or a self-promoting privatizing windbag — and though I haven’t decided whether he is either or both I will say he is an engaging and energetic speaker with many interesting observations; I was glad to have an opportunity to hear him.

His talk centered on the seven essential ingredients of school reform, based on his experiences in Chicago, Philadelphia and now New Orleans. Whether you buy into the necessity of any or all of these ingredients depends on whether you agree that Mr. Vallas brought true and lasting reform to any of these cities. And with respect to New Orleans, well, what can you say? New Orleans, pre-Katrina, was easily the nation’s lowest-performing and most dysfunctional school system. Mr. Vallas is starting with a clean slate (a fact he readily acknowledges),  and intense interest, support and financial investment from school reformers all over the country (something he doesn’t as readily acknowledge, at least in today’s talk).

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Notes from the CUBE Issues Seminar

small_chicagoI’ve been in Chicago this weekend attending the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE)  summer issues seminar.  It’s gorgeously clear and balmy outside (rare for Chicago in June!) but I have stayed indoors to attend all of the various sessions, because they are jam-packed with interesting and useful information.

I heard a presentation from Greg Darnieder, special assistant on college access to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Mr. Darnieder outlined various initiatives the Obama administration is starting up to improve access to college, and highlighted the urgency of the task. What stuck with me was that high school graduation can no longer be our goal — the future is limited for people who get no further than a high school diploma (and even then, 1.2 million members of the Class of 2008 nationwide did not get even that far). We need to be urging students to “get one more piece of paper” after they graduate, whether that piece of paper is the completion of a certificate program, a two-year degree, or a four-year degree.

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