“We think of educational innovation not as a fad but as the prerequisite for deep, systematic change, the kind of change that is necessary—and long overdue.” This is the premise for the latest edition of Leaders and Laggards, a State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation written by the Center for American Progress, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.
The most recent publication pushes for an entire overhaul of the education system, instead of promoting one the new fads that has long characterized K-12 education pedagogy and curriculum. Sound familiar? It should. Secretary Duncan has pushed for an entirely new system, instead of just “tinkering around the edges.”
Leaders and Laggards graded a school’s innovation progress by considering the following categories: school management, finance, staffing, data, technology, pipeline to postsecondary education, and state reform environment. “More broadly, however, this effort must be complemented by giving new providers the freedom and encouragement they need to promote high-quality research and development, and to develop innovative “green shoot” reform ventures that pioneer more effective tools and strategies.”
We couldn’t agree more. Innovation stemming from research and development is the kind of purposeful improvement schools need and leaders are looking for to ensure an excellent education for every child. Critical to this research and development infrastructure, however, is the dissemination of this knowledge and information. Businesses and countries that survived the technology changes of the nineties and the struggling economy of today adapted and innovated by sharing information and democratizing decision-making.
Schools must imitate this change. Unlike businesses, the CAP report hopes that schools do not just survive, but rather undergo transformational change. But reform for reform’s sake cannot be the standard for this shift. Anchored by research, development, and dissemination of knowledge, “innovative educational practices are vital to laying the groundwork for continuous and transformational change.”
Find the report here: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/11/leaders_laggards/report.html and more thoughts here: http://www.americanprogress.org/