Wednesday, January 2, 2008

University-School Partnerships: A Collaboration for Success?

Happy New Year! I'm glad to be back with you for 2008.

There will be no "Wednesday Issue/Interview" today, seeing as today is really a "Monday" - well, okay, it just feels like one. However, I am happy to report on some recent education reform news:

California is trying an innovative approach to school partnerships: allowing colleges and universities to start their own K-12 schools. Now, university-school partnerships are not a new idea; over the past few decades, it has become a common practice (especially in urban areas) for institutions of higher education to collaborate with schools and districts to improve learning. What's new about this is that for the first time, California can claim a number of schools that are actually RUN by colleges and universities - not just partnered with them.

The universities pitch it as a win-win situation: the children receive a high-quality education (thus, improving their chances at a successful college career) and the universities win by being able to "funnel" these youngsters into their college programs. Oh, and by the way, the schools also serve as "laboratories" to see whether the educational theories being taught by the university are working or, as the article quotes, "falling flat."

Wow, I would love to have my child attending a school where he/she is essentially a lab rat. A chilling quote by Howard Levine, Dean of UC Davis's School of Education, is this:
"Either we know something about how to deliver education to these children or we don't." Well, Mr. Levine, I sure hope that you're banking on knowing! We already have too many schools failing our students; we don't need another one, thank you.

That said, the idea is not all bad. I think that these could be very productive partnerships and they do show a willingness on the part of education schools to be accountable (even if only to themselves). Many schools of education would do well to evaluate their own relevancy and effectiveness; this could be a step in the right direction for that.

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