Small schools reform is often accompanied by familiar buzzwords that can mean different things to different people (sometimes called “stakeholders”). Here’s a short guide for wary beginners:
|Teacher-led, student-centered, community- connected school communities shaped by concerns for democracy, social justice, and racial equality.
|Isolated subdivisions of a bureaucratically run system that erode the common ground on which a democratic system of public education depends.
|Providing diverse, high-quality school options to all children while promoting equity, democracy, and the common public interest.
|Introducing market practices that privatize public institutions and reproduce inequality in the name of reform.
|Organizing efforts that make the exercise of power in schools transparent and shift it from above to below.
|A conditional invitation extended by those in control to participate in “reform projects on their terms.
|A commitment to power sharing and partnership in all aspects of school life and challenging dialogue among varied groups.
|Obligatory and passive community presence at regularly scheduled official events, often in exchange for refreshments.
|Thoughtful school-based activity that encourages collaborative practices and shared experience inside schools and classrooms.
|Externally designed, consultant-driven intervention that imposes pre-packaged agendas on school communities.
|School-based decisionmaking about issues of teaching and learning, staffing and resource priorities, and accountability and assessment practices.
|The freedom to decide what to cut out of an inadequate budget.
|Meaningful objectives, developed and shared by a school community with the aim of ensuring that all students are educated well toward graduation and higher education.
|A testing regime in which increased dropout rates and distorted teaching practices are the collateral damage.
|The use of relevant research by school communities to make informed, collaborative decisions about school change.
|The selective use of data by administrators to justify policy decisions they would have made anyway.
Neighborhood Schools/Community Control
|A commitment to allow poor and working-class communities, particularly communities of color and rural communities, help design and shape the nature of their children’s education.
|A chance for whites/elites to reclaim buildings in their neighborhood now “occupied by “other people’s children. A handy term to make racial segregation sound benign.