On October 11-12, 2012, the NEA Foundation convened close to 200 leaders in education reform, with union-district leadership teams representing 20 communities, all part of our Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative and our Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
Participants heard from internationally and nationally recognized luminaries involved in the transformation of public education, including Pedro Noguera, Michael Fullan, and Michael D. Usdan.
In his remarks, Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University, reflected on promotion of equity to close the achievement gaps by addressing the broader range of academic and non-academic supports needed by traditionally under-served student populations to succeed. He drew from: insights articulated in his latest book (co-authored with Wade Boykin), “Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap,” and from his experience leading the Broader, Bolder Approach (BBA).
Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, provided an account of what whole system reform means, focusing on identification of the “right drivers” (those policy levers that achieve better measurable results for students). He began with an examination of those typically chosen in the US to accomplish reform, critiqued their inadequacy, and offered an alternative set that have proven to be more effective. Fullan distilled four criteria by which to judge a driver's effectiveness, useful for sites as they look at their current collaborative work and make plans for its development and refinement. The criteria are:
- fostering motivation of teachers and students
- engaging educators and students in continuous improvement
- inspiring team work
- reaching all teachers and students
District-union collaboration around high-leverage change projects does not transpire in a vacuum. Local teams must consider present-day—and intensified—dynamics associated with expanded civic and community involvement in reform. Michael Usdan, past president and current senior fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and co-editor and contributor to "Powerful Reforms with Shallow Roots: Improving America’s Urban Schools" opened the convening with framing insights drawn from his analysis of successful reform over the past 30 years. His remarks focused on the complexities, challenges, and promise of an expanded table of educational leadership.
Watch videos of their keynote addresses.