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What is education even for? Philosophy, policy, opportunity and street-level bureaucrats

What is education for? You may have different answers whether you are a parent, teacher, business owner, college student, but the answers are not merely based upon your role. Philosophy determines perspective, and ultimately, policy, when street-level bureaucrats implement policy through their philosophical lens. A recent article in The Week, “The value of education is not what you think” by Jeff Spross (2019) relates how two different philosophies of education, human capital and signaling, result in quite disparate national educational policy. The human capital theory argues that education increases earnings because it adds knowledge and skills to workers, making them more valuable as employees. Signaling theory counters that idea with research showing that education is much more valuable as degrees that signal employers the employee has what it takes in intelligence, perseverance, and economic and social resources. Human capital argues that education develops employees; signaling a
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When good ELA teaching gets implemented through a corporate lens

Grouped around tables at the Center for the Advancement of Reading in Sacramento, more than a decade ago, I had no idea that I was doing a process I would read about later in an education doctorate class on public policy formation (Zancanella & Moore, 2014). Nor did I guess that there would be over four million results criticizing our efforts in a Google search of “criticism of Common Core ELA” in 2019. At least, I’m still proud of the feedback that Expository Reading and Writing (ERWC) leaders gave on early documents that would become the ELA Common Core. I understand the ideas of tight and loose policy, but my life experience has not shown me examples of either working without long-term criticism. Tighter policies are criticized for being unnecessarily prescriptive and stakeholders rebel. Looser policies, like the ELA standards, are slammed for being too vague and not giving enough guidance. ERWC, co-written in the early 2000s by both English professors at the California Stat

Dashboard to a new ideology

The California School Board Association AND the California Association of School Administrators opposed suspension bans. (Washburn, 2019) Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed or cut down two previous suspension ban bills in 2012 and 2014. (Washburn, 2019) The California Teachers Association (CTA) lobbied against suspension ban bills for years. (Sheeler, 2019) But when SB 419 passed in April this year, it was broadly supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the California PTA, American Academy of Pediatrics (Sheeler, 2019), the California School Board Association, and the California Association of School Administrators (Washburn, 2019); with the only group opposing this first-in-the-nation legislation the Charter School Development Center (Sheeler, 2019).  What happened? What caused this sea change for this much-hated, and much-watched by other states, reform? You might guess that "Political ideologies have changed the interpretation of laws and pra

CODEL as policy for a cohesive California

“Graduate-level education programs prepare professionals and researchers to work in or study one (versus all) of the sectors. Often, education policy and research analysts earn degrees in fields other than education, such as public administration or political science. In any of these programs, there is rarely an overview course or experience that gives budding education policy analysts and researchers an overview of the P-20 system,” writes Jennifer A. Rippner in her 2016 The American Education Policy Landscape (pg. 2). She describes the piecemeal nature of American education and how its lack of cohesive structure affects American academic competitiveness. Rippner describes the educational landscape, but also a problem that has prompted policy-writing in California A 2005 California Senate Bill 724, penned by Jack Scott, allowed the California State University (CSU) system to create a handful of new doctorate programs to address stated need, including an Education Doctorate in Ed

How can schools honor and tap into the knowledge and resources of all families?

In “Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms” published in Theory into Practice by Moll, Amanti, Neff and Gonzalez (1992) explain a partnership between anthropology researchers at University of Arizona and elementary teachers in Tuscon led to an at-home inventory of funds of knowledge of Latinx students and families. Although teachers were nervous taking on the persona of qualitative researcher, the prior relationships they had with the children translated into deeper conversations with families that progressed faster than researchers by themselves.  The discovered funds of knowledge and relationships with families led to curriculum bridging home and school competencies. For example, knowledge of Mexican candies, business, and candy making led to inquiry curriculum about what is candy, import and export businesses, candy making, and entrepreneurship. Students, in small groups, created a definition of candy, considering cultur

Who am I?

Amy K. Conley serves as a high school English teacher at Fortuna High School in Humboldt County, California, where she works to promote educational programs that foster excellence in service-learning, literacy, and equity, and lecturer at Humboldt State University in elementary education literacy practices. The first woman in her family to attend college, Conley has always sought to improve access to literacy in diverse populations. She has taught in California for 19 years, primarily as a high school English teacher, graduated with a Master's (2000) in Mass Communication from San Jose State and is currently enrolled in the Collaborative Online Doctorate in Education Leadership, a joint venture between California State University, Channel Islands and Fresno State University. She received a $17,000 Institute For Teaching grant from the California Teachers Association to establish a district-wide service-learning program in Humboldt County.  Since 2001, Conley has volunteered to t

Leadership modeled by Tweets?

An article by Dr. Josie Ahlquist,  25 Higher Education Presidents to Follow on Twitter , examines the Twitter style of university presidents that allows a peek at leadership perspectives. Most of the presidents selected employ Greenleaf's (1977) servant leadership model, hyping student and program accomplishments and being the face of the university. Some go beyond that paradigm to be transformative, advocating for change and leading values discussions (Gardner, 2005). Even fewer presidents demonstrate servant and transformative and authentic leadership that cheerleads their campuses, pushes for positive change, and displays themselves transparently as fallible humans.