By Doug Ford
Last week I reviewed some important points made by Peter D. Salins in his book “The Smart Society: Strengthening America’s Greatest Resource, its People.” He identified the “Megagap,” between the performance levels of the mainstream of American students and the “disadvantaged American youngsters of all ethnic groups” as the biggest problem in American education
Salins argued that we have followed strategies for closing the Megagap that didn’t work for more than six decades. He pointed out that our inadequate graduation levels from high school and college are a direct result of lack of effort to enable disadvantaged students to overcome their cultural literacy deficit before they start first grade and in the early years of elementary school.
Then he shows several examples of what has been demonstrated to work: well-designed and supported preschool programs. “Although a growing volume of empirically solid research confirms the cultural deficit hypothesis, this finding has been largely ignored or rejected by the American educational establishment.”… “This has led to a nationwide profusion of ineffective or inefficient preschools, undermining the rationale and broad-based public support for significantly expanding the preschool enterprise.”
Source: Doug Ford: Understanding importance of preschool education
By Doug Ford
“America can once again become the best-educated people in the world through a few strategic interventions at key points in the schooling trajectory.” Peter D. Salins, “Strengthening America’s Greatest Resource, Its People,” (2014), p. 2.
“The project of fixing America’s educational system should begin with a strategic analysis of where, in the interaction of children and schools, we find our most serious academic problems, and where, in the educational pipeline, those problems can be most effectively addressed.” Salins, p.50.
Peter D. Salins earned bachelor of architecture, master of planning, and doctoral degrees at Syracuse University. He earned a reputation as an excellent problem solver and has written books about housing, immigration and other public policy issues.
By Doug Ford
I left the Solano EDC meeting a week ago a bit perplexed. It was great to hear that Solano County is planning to move ahead with economic strategic planning. What is being planned is all fine but the way it was presented needs some improving. I wonder what the slogan, “Solano Means Business” really means. That and other phrases used in the hand-out provided seems to have a tone of “this is all for business and for nobody else.” The photograph of a man standing in the middle of a grain field studying a road map seems to me to give a bad impression of the project.
It seems strange to lead off a presentation by pointing fingers at “economic red flags needing action” that are all non-Solano business entities: the military, residents who receive some sort of public assistance, residents who commute outside the county for work, and surrounding counties that are “bypassing Solano County.” This tone of “Solano business is good and everybody else is bad” is also noticeable in some of the other “Moving Solano Forward” publications.
Source: Exploring Solano County’s economic strategic planning – The Reporter
By Doug Ford
Last Friday I attended the PACE Research and Policy Conference at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. PACE is the acronym for Policy Analysis for California Education. When the founders decided to start it in 1983, “there was an urgent need for objective, non-partisan information about the condition of California’s education system. Following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which indirectly limited public education funding, the state’s schools were thrown into turmoil. …” (from the PACE brochure: “Looking Back, Looking Forward, 25th annual celebration, 1983-2008”).
Since 1983, PACE has “remained a powerful force in analyzing policy and disseminating information for policy-makers in Sacramento and school administrators throughout the state.” Most of the participants in PACE are professors in schools of education at California universities. One of the founders was Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education during Governor Jerry Brown’s first two terms as governor and again now. He is professor emeritus at Stanford University and has been a leader in improving knowledge about education in California for more than fifty years.
Source: Doug Ford: PACE still powerful force in studying state education
By Doug Ford
Linda Darling-Hammond and Robert Rothman have put together a very brief but powerful book on what we need to do about K-12 education. Published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University, it calls for a strong systemic approach to improve our teaching force through strong recruitment and preparation, attractive teaching conditions, continued support for learning, equitable allocation of teachers and resources and proactive leadership development.
Fifty years ago, our elementary and secondary education system was still thought of as the best in the world, but as we dallied with too many piecemeal incoherent modifications and inadequate funding, several other nations that had been far behind us have caught up with and passed us in performance through their systemic and coherent improvements.
Source: Doug Ford: A brief but powerful read on improving K-12 education
By Doug Ford
Leo J. Ryan is most remembered now because of his tragic death on November 18, 1978. He was known for his earnestness in getting to the root of any issue about which he felt obligated to do something about. As a Bay Area assemblyman during the Watts Riots of 1965, he traveled to Watts to get a temporary job as a substitute teacher in order to learn and report on what led to the tragedy.
In 1970, when he was chairman of the Assembly committee on prison reform, he arranged to be arrested under a pseudonym and placed in Folsom Prison as an inmate so that he could learn first-hand what conditions were like in California’s prisons.
Elected to Congress in 1972, he gained fame for his demands for better Congressional oversight of the CIA’s covert operations which led to the Hughes-Ryan Amendment of 1974.
Source: Doug Ford: The Ryan Act established standard for teacher training