I recently gave a TEDx MidAtlantic talk entitled Unlocking Human Potential: Why We Need a New Infrastructure for Learning about Learning. My premise was that we have the opportunity to tap into vast amounts of latent human potential; but, to do so quickly, we need to build a new national research agenda and apparatus focused on breakthrough learning outcomes.
The theme of this TEDx event was Be Fearless: Take Risks. Be Bold. Fail Forward — IMHO a perfect theme for all of education today. I have come to believe that “being fearless” requires one to ask oneself two foundational questions: (1) What do you believe (is possible), and (2) what are you willing to do? Therefore, I began my talk by addressing a common misconception that limits our ability to believe unprecedented learning outcomes can be produced at scale. Consciously and subconsciously, we often allow the conflation of potential (capacity) and performance to limit what learning outcomes we believe can be achieved by all learners. However, without entering the long and embattled debate about the existence and shape of the bell curve describing individual intellectual potential, we can turn this misconception on its head.
(September 27, 2012) The U.S. Department of Education announced grants totaling more than $14.4 million to support high-quality charter schools in more than 25 communities across the country. As a result of today’s grants, an additional 20,000 students in schools in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and the District of Columbia, will have access to a quality education in charter schools.
Through this funding, Democracy Prep Public Schools will receive more than $4.1 million for the first two years of a five-year grant, and the KIPP Foundation will receive more than $10.3 million for the first two years of a four-year grant. Both organizations will be able to continue and expand their work in schools that have demonstrated success in improving education outcomes for students.
Schools, Districts, and States Transform Seat-based Requirements into Competency-based Pathways to College- and Career-Readiness
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in addressing the "new normal" schools are facing – tight budget times that call for doing more with less and finding ways to innovate, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and accelerate reform – released promising practices last March to help states, districts, and schools meet this extraordinary challenge. The Department, in furthering the Secretary's efforts, offered a set of additional innovative approaches and best practices, Increasing Educational Productivity, last May.
The five communities receiving 2011 Promise Neighborhoods (PN) implementation grants represent well America's geographic diversity, stretching from the hills of Appalachia to the shores of the San Francisco Bay. Among the core elements they have in common is a strong commitment to early learning as a key ingredient for achieving their cradle-to-career goals.
In addition, 14 of the 15 PN planning grants announced by OII's Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton on behalf of the Obama Administration are also embracing the focused commitment to early learning. "Education is the one true path to opportunity and the American Dream," Shelton noted following the December 19th announcement in Minneapolis, and "the tremendous interest in early learning among Promise Neighborhoods is a testament to the recognition that the path begins in a student's earliest years."
(December 19, 2011) Senior officials from the Obama Administration announced today that five organizations will receive the first round of Promise Neighborhoods implementation grants, and another 15 organizations will receive a second round of planning grants. Grantees, comprised of nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education and an Indian tribe, will put school improvement at the center of local efforts to revitalize underserved neighborhoods.