Last Wednesday I received an email congratulating me on the defeat of ballot question 2. After spending months trying to prevent this measure from passing, I was incredibly relieved to see it go down. But what really struck me about the message was the mention of the millions of dollars that had been spent on the campaign. Together, both sides spent nearly $40 million. Ultimately, people on both sides of the debate had the same goal: giving all our children the educational opportunities they deserve. I can only imagine what positive impact that money could have had if it had been spent directly on schools.
How can we stop fighting and come together now to learn from each other to improve the lives of all of our kids?
1- Recognize & appreciate our differences. In a battle for sparse funding, it becomes too easy to demonize the other side. The thing is, there are so many Boston schools- traditional and charter alike- that are doing great things for students. At the same time, each of our schools has a lot of room to grow. Given the enormity of this task of helping to build and enrich the lives of a diverse group of young people, none of us are achieving all of our goals. Many charters could learn from traditional schools about meeting the needs of different students, about building culturally responsive community, and about sustaining a committed teaching staff. Many traditional schools could learn from charters about committing to a unified instructional vision, about working towards explicit achievement goals for each student, and about the power of ongoing school-based professional development.
2- Share everything. As a teacher, the best use of my planning time is spent taking something I or others have already created and making it better. The worst use of my time is when I waste hours reinventing the wheel. There are some amazing, locally created resources out there for teacher collaboration- betterlesson.com , Edward Brooke’s Instructional Resources site, the Boston Teacher Residency’s Resources site, and the BPS Interactive Rubric of Effective Teaching, to name a few. These resources all have the potential to become the foundation of an amazing online warehouse of best practices.
3- Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. The internet is a wonderful thing, but there is no substitute for seeing the work in person. Here in Boston, we are all working within just a few miles of each other. Let’s get into each other’s schools. Let’s co-plan. Let’s co-teach. Both teachers and school administrators have so much to learn from each other- let’s get started.
4- Advocate together for the things our kids need In recent years, education funding has grown increasingly insecure. Given the reality of the incoming presidential administration, we are likely to be fighting an uphill battle to protect our kids and their families. We will be so much stronger if we work together.