You may not have seen the letter ASCD sent to U.S. representatives regarding HR 5 which is the House’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It was an exceptionally well written response. While it may fall short of what many of us believe should and could have been suggested it none the less points out several critical improvements to the bill. One suggestion in particular stuck with me.  Take a look at the highlighted statement below.

The following was excerpted directly from the ASCD letter: “Furthermore, H.R. 5 perpetuates NCLB’s strategy of only recognizing schools that do poorly and does not provide any type of recognition, reward, or incentive for districts and schools that consistently perform well, close achievement gaps, succeed in cohort comparisons, or improve educator effectiveness.”

One of the biggest problems I had with NCLB from the beginning was its preoccupation with  failing schools. To me it seemed to be saying that teachers who aren’t doing a good job better get it in gear or there will be punishments. We learned long ago that doesn’t work. Entrepreneurs gave up this kind of thinking more than 30 years ago. They understand that the path to greater success for them lies in finding the model structures and behaviors in their respective organizations, examining them and sharing them with everyone else.

Just this past year, I saw so many school and district successes that can and should be held up as models to others.  In just a few weeks we will be honoring Sanders Elementary School with the 2013 Gold Medal at NCTM in Las Vegas. Their students are among the poorest in the nation and yet these educators did not give up. They found a way. You can find their story and many others like them on the Ascend Math Gold Medal page

This page only includes those schools who submitted a Gold Medal nomination. For every nominated school there are hundreds of others doing spectacular work helping all students succeed at math including ELL students and those in special education.

This year let’s hope those in charge at our nation’s capital search for the positive stories including the subtle improvements at those schools that have struggled for too long.  Let’s get past the need to wag our fingers and find fault. It’s time to get rid of the stick.

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