During last month’s inaugural convening of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s By All Means initiative, Professor Paul Reville, founder of the school’s Education Design Lab and former Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Education, showed a slide about how By All Means will define success:
- Students can get and hold a 21st Century, high-skill, high-knowledge job that enables them to support a family
- Students become informed citizens and active learners
- Students become heads of families and lifelong, fulfilled learners
The question that Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, asked was this:
“Is there anything in that slide that says that schools have to be in charge? That’s the problem. We begin by assuming schools have to be in charge. Suppose we started with focusing on success? There are some communities where it makes perfect sense for schools to be in charge. But there are some communities where we might want the public housing authority to take the lead and feel the responsibility. And there may be places where, if we read the literature of ‘third places’ where parents feel comfortable and at home, it should be libraries and museums. We have to be driven by what we define as success, and not some pre-determined notion of who is in charge.”
Provocative questions and thinking are part of what will define the work of By All Means, which aims to develop comprehensive child well-being and education systems in the GLR Campaign cities of Oakland, Louisville, Providence as well as Salem, Somerville, and Newton in Massachusetts that combat linkages between socioeconomic status and academic achievement.
Through establishment of mayor-led Children’s Cabinets, high-profile national meetings with Harvard faculty and work the school’s Education Deign Lab, the cities will work to “reconceptualize” 21st-century education and scale up practices that improve outcomes for low-income students in grades K-12.
Bridget Rodriguez, Associate Director of Programs and Operations of the Education Redesign Lab, said the By All Means convening helped kick off a national conversation on non school-centric education reform efforts and helped the six cities hit the ground running. “It was very affirming for some folks to put a kind of a new lens on this idea that schools alone cannot do this work, and that comes from people in the school world,” she said. “We are very energized. The other thing that was quite good from the day is that it made new connections for us with others interested in this work.”
Go to http://edredesign.org/by-all-means for more information.