Friday, June 19, 2009

Read this: "Rhode Island Risks Losing $4.3 Billion ‘Race to the Top’"

As the recent weather has demonstrated, when it rains, it pours. And same here: 2 blog posts in a day! I wanted to take just a minute, which is less than I have given the amount of work I've got, to share Angus Davis' statement on behalf of the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education about Rhode Island's foolish move to cut charter funding. Read Davis' statement here.

The effect is not only to squash educational innovation here in RI, but also to put our state in serious jeopardy. We are otherwise likely to be in good standing to receive competitive Race to the Top ARRA stimulus funds. With this, as well as with Governor Carcieri's move to use the first round of educational stimulus money to plug budget holes, we're losing access to those funds, and to the advancement that will result.

Lacking the time, capacity, or expertise to get deeply into this infuriating decision, I want to inspire you to learn more. Read Davis' statement, think about it, and demand better for our young people and systems set up to educate them.

summer unschool

Three more days left for kids in this school year, make-up snow days at this point. If any teachers are still planning lessons and working on content and creating powerful teaching and learning at this point in the year, wow, my hat is off to you.

Elias, my third grader and Leo, my kindergartener, both students at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, are looking forward to summer (and, with this terrible weather we've been having, aren't we all) and sad that school is ending. Elias is captivated by science, for which we have his teacher, Kathy Sullivan, and Brown University's K-12 science program to thank. Science has replaced gym as the highlight of his week. Leo mostly talks about missing his friends, but is also reluctant to part with gym, and centers, and the routines of his classroom. I am sad that his wonderful teacher, Joan Abrames, is retiring even as I am gratified that she, and teaching assistant Ms. Eileen, and everyone at King has given Leo such a great first year of school.

Next week, I'll talk with them about what they want to learn and explore this summer. Elias wants to experiment with bridge building, and he has two research projects inspired by music, to investigate the names and places cited in "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Harvey Haddix. I think that Leo wants to work on math and numbers, and also explore beaches and learn how they work and what's there. I think we may get down to DC, so need to get more immersed in space so we can have a great experience at the Air and Space Museums. I'll post about what they're learning this summer, and how we find ways to support that while also having fun and allowing their minds to run free. And - how we find time to support them as fulltime working parents of three young kids. I want to find a way to give them ways to explore a subject in some depth, in a project-based way, so they know how to do that and what that feels like.

And I'll get back to post about what's happening at PPSD and Providence students, including looking at summer programs and learning--both intentional programmed learning, and the great, mundane, terrible, life-shaping learning that happens no matter what. What are Providence kids learning this summer? I hope to have better citywide insight into that question by September.

(I don't want to overlook three year old Henry--he's starting camp fulltime at the JCC and will be learning what it's like to spend the day out of the house, learning a new routine, bringing his own lunch. Exciting stuff! He is fired up. I think he'll be learning a lot more; we'll be working on the alphabet and numbers through sensory stimulation now and then.)