The Sunday morning paper is a ritual in our house. Since moving to the east coast years ago, it has become the New York Times. But, this morning, I was filled with a bit of dread when I saw that education was a focus of the magazine section. Dread, because, so often I have found that anything written about education, seemingly almost anywhere, seems to miss the nuances behind what actually happens in a school. So, I had to make a decision, read it right away and work the rest of my Sunday on not being annoyed by it, or just push it off. I decided to read it.
And, I could not believe it. It was one of the best articles about a city school that I have ever read, especially in the context of the current state of reform. It is a good article because it is real. The principal, Ramon Gonzalez, seems amazing and he struggles with many things: the encroachment of charter schools, the inexperience with Teach for America teachers, kids with a lot of needs moving into the school any day of the year, finding funding to the extra things, lack of support from central office. What is great about the article is that it seems to have no "angle". Teachers unions are not the enemy at the school, they copy strategies from some charter schools but ignore others, and they go all out for kids and do not always find success because of their own fault or the circumstances of the child's life. Really an amazing read and I hope that folks in the policy field, because their own experience in actual schools was most likely rather fleeting, give it a read. It would help them understand what impact certain policies have in a real school trying hard to improve.