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Golden Apple Roundtable

January 21, 2008

Mr. Dom Belmonte: Good evening. Earlier yesterday afternoon, after the inauguration,
by a unanimous vote of voice in the Senate, Arne Duncan was confirmed as the education
secretary. As a long-time representative of Golden Apple, as a member of its board of
directors, we have an affinity with Mr. Duncan, besides having long association with him
through our professional means, that makes our conversation particularly pointed to offer
him advice. Other organizations have done so, as you’ve seen and read. Here are 20
questions for you to answer, Mr. Duncan. Here are five pieces of advice, Mr. Duncan.
He’s going to be getting a number of these. But he will look at that which comes from
Golden Apple because of his association.

And we’ve gathered together a number of representatives of both our Golden Apple
Academy and Teaching Scholar force, experts in administration and in instruction, in
science, in teacher preparation, in early childhood, middle school and high school. So we
have a good grouping of that representing the interests of the mission that Golden Apple
has pursued for the past 24 years. So consider this a conversation in which the words will
not only be sent out to the general public, but directed towards someone who we know
who’s going to have a direct impact on this nation’s education agenda.

What advice could we offer him? Now we know in his confirmation hearings he listed
four – well, four particular topics that caught my eye among the things that he talked
about that he wanted to focus on in his tenure: expanded early education, improved
teacher preparation and teacher quality, reduction of the dropout rate in this country in its
high schools, increased access to college. These and other topics are among the things
that have been part and parcel of the work that we have done. So the first question that I
open up for your consideration is, in your basket of desires, what do you think the new
Secretary of Education should most focus on in trying to help improve the educational
experiences of deserving children across this nation? I open it to anyone.

Mr. Mark Larson: I’ll respond to that. I’m a professor of education at National-Louis
University, and I hope that doesn’t make it seem like this is why I’m responding this way,
but I think teacher preparation is extremely essential. All four of those are great, actually.
As I was listening to it I was really impressed with those choices. But teacher
preparation, I think, is going to be extremely important. You’ve got to get the right
people in there, and they have to be prepared much better than they are currently
prepared.

Ms. Carol Broos: Well, we’re heading towards – I’m Carol Broos, a music teacher at a
junior high, Sunset Ridge – and I think that we are really moving to a big digital age.
President Obama’s picture is the first president that is an actual digital picture. The
White House now has their own site on the White House. They are moving toward a
digital age, and we are not teaching a lot of our students digital skills. We’re still caught

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up in the paper, pencil. And at 4:00 they’re going home and they’re teaching themselves
without any sense of what they’re really supposed to be doing.

And as we prepare for our work force into the 21st century, everyone’s going to have to
have these digital skills. And a lot of times we’re not teaching those skills. And that’s
what I see as one of the – that’s why I was very excited to hear that he wants to look at
the dropout rate, because I think that’s one of the reasons kids drop out. They don’t see
what they’re learning is going to actually get them a job. They don’t see that that’s the
next step. So I think that was – like I said, I was really excited to see that.

Ms. Lynda Parker: I am particularly drawn towards the increased access to college. As
a high school counselor, this is something we work with on a daily basis, and I would
also suggest adding into that not only access to college, but also better preparation for the
college experience, which would add into it leveling the field so that our students in
public schools had just the same access and preparation as a private school that has
resources to have college labs and college advisors for just that part of their life, and they
don’t do other things; they simply get these students prepared and ready to go to college.
So I would also add to that not just getting them in the door to college, but making sure
they’re prepared to stay there for the four to five years it would take them to complete
their undergraduate education.

Ms. Susan __: I think I just read something online about there’s 40 percent of our
college students, because they were talking about loans. So there was a student who
graduated, he is $125,000 in debt. And he is working at a $10 an hour job because he
was one of those students who got into college, ended up with this debt, but wasn’t
prepared to do the kind of college work that demanded him to get the kind of job. So
there’s something to be said that we want our kids to attend college, but if I’m not
prepared, I’m going to come out with a degree that still puts me back at a $10 an hour
with $125,000 debt.

Ms. Elizabeth Kirby: I think that there really needs to be a clear curriculum, early
childhood through college. I think that there are huge gaps when students go, sometimes
from fifth grade to sixth grade, sometimes from eighth to ninth grade. And as a high
school principal, we really do see students who come in with some challenges. It’s very
difficult to address those if you’ve had students who have had one year, two years, three
years, four years of weak, uncoordinated instruction. And it does lead to lack of
engagement in school. It does lead to a dropout crisis. It does lead to teachers feeling
burned out and overwhelmed.

So if I could do one thing, I would really tighten the curriculum from three to 21 for
students, and definitely lengthen the school day, without question. It is too short in
elementary school, it is too short in high school. It does not prepare them for college,
especially if you have students who are not going to necessarily have the supports to do
the two to three to five hours of homework that they need to do at night. You need that
time on task in the classroom.

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Ms. Michele Washington: You know, speaking to the weak and uncoordinated
curriculum and instruction, as a middle school principal, I see a lot of children from
urban settings who come ill prepared at the home base because the expectations that are
placed on the school are sometimes unrealistic, because the school has now taken the
place as the parent as well. And with the curriculum as well, we have a very broad based
curriculum, but no real depth or core.

And if we’re training students and educating them for the 21st century for jobs that don’t
even exist currently, I think that we need to take a look at what we’re doing down the
road as well as what we have in front of us, and our parents need to be brought into that.
And there should be a curriculum that speaks to partnering more with our parents who do
not have those same kinds of experiences that our children are having today. And I think
that that’s one of the things that Secretary Duncan should also take a look at, in
conjunction with the curriculum and it wide span-ness.

Mr. Belmonte: One of the unspoken topics that wasn’t mentioned in the confirmation
hearings was interest in the emotional wellbeing of students. And for you, Linda, and
you, especially, Katie, this has been a very large part of your experience in education.
And how important do you find this issue, and how could it be activated on a national
level?

Ms. Katie Hogan: Well, I would tie the emotional needs of students just as importantly
into the academic needs of students. One cannot supercede the other. And we have to
look at the reality that although college is a wonderful opportunity, it is a somewhat
fantasy when students are facing the challenges of violence and poverty at the rates that
they’re facing them right now. And I think that we need to find different ways and
pathways to provide access for students.

And I’d like to give a really specific example. We have, right now, in legislation, the
Dream Act that President Obama – and it’s great to say that – President Obama has put
support behind, and I know that Secretary Duncan has put support behind that we could
pass and get a lot of our students access to federal funds to go into college. In addition to
that, something as an educator for nine years at the high school level that I’ve never
thought about doing until this past year is making more partnerships from the secondary
level with the university level.

Our school is partnered with Roosevelt University, which has promised all students if
they can get a 20 on their ACT and a 3.0 GPA, they will get a full ride for four years at
Roosevelt University. In addition to that, we have Roosevelt University students
themselves who want to be teachers coming into our school tutoring and working with
kids from the ninth grade year. So not only are we improving teacher preparation by
giving them real life experiences working with urban youth, but we’re also creating that
culture of college that students are missing, and then saying if you put the work in, if you
put the effort in, you will be rewarded by our society, and then you will come back and
hopefully continue that process. But that’s something that is untraditional, and it’s

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something that needs to be supported from the university to the secondary level, and then
hopefully on down.

Ms. Washington: So an integration of curriculum at the secondary or post secondary


level into the high school, and then hopefully also to my wonderful little junior high
people–

Ms. Hogan: Absolutely.

Ms. Washington: –who need to feed into high schools.

Ms. Hogan: Absolutely.

Ms. Washington: Okay.

Ms. Parker: And I totally believe that the emotional piece doesn’t get as much press
because it’s not as measurable. We’re a big data oriented place now, like if it can’t be
proved by data, then it has to take a back seat. But as Katie was saying, the emotional
piece, when ignored, doesn’t allow you to reap the benefits in the education process for
your data. So for a person – I used to teach math before I became a counselor – for my
child that came in and had some issue from the morning, and then they were late, or
somebody screamed at them when they walked in the door, “Where’s your ID? Get your
tardy pass.” Then they got upstairs and security said, “Get in your classroom, why are
you even out?” So they come into my room and they’re 20 minutes late, and I’m saying,
“Okay, and today we’re going to be factoring polynomials.” And they don’t care. They
don’t care because I haven’t yet addressed the fact that they feel like they’re dying on the
inside because one thing led to another, and this is how their day always begins.

So the emotional piece has to be factored in in some measure so that the kids can feel first
good about themselves so that the education makes a difference to them. I know we
came from a time when education had to matter because our parents told us to and we
just followed by the rules, but we’re more so in a day and age where a lot of students are
raising themselves. They go from adults at home to being children at school to being
adults at the end of the day when they have to pick up their brothers and sisters, and
we’re asking them to step between these two worlds fluidly and not saying to them I
understand what’s going on, let me first tap this and make it a part of the education
process. Because I can really teach the class and care about how you feel at the same
time. It’s not something that has to happen in two separate worlds. I can care and still
get across what I’m trying to get, and that’s when they grow and flourish.

Ms. Cheryl Watkins: I have to jump in, I’m sorry, because what I’ve done is I’ve
listened to you guys, and it’s been great, right, but no one has talked about children with
disabilities, and so that’s a critical piece. So all the things that you’ve mentioned, there’s
always those silenced and silent kids who often get pushed to the back burner. So Mark,
you talked about teacher preparation, and absolutely. Preparing Special Ed teachers to be
those core knowledge brokers as well as the affective domain that you brought up, but

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that, you know, you guys talked about that emotional side, cannot be discussed without
thinking about them.

And so for Secretary Duncan, I would have to put on the hat of Special Educator and say
please don’t forget our kids. Now, that doesn’t mean that all the other things that we’ve
talked about are not important, because they are. When we talk about inclusive
education, we talk about certainly it not being funded appropriately. We also talk about
people being fearful of actually doing it. So this week I had a chance just, you know, in
my building inviting a student to come back to our school with a disability to hear from
him. Now, he doesn’t talk much, but when I called and said sweetheart, we fixed your
bussing, would you like to come back to the school, he yelled and screamed in the
background, which said he wants a safe place. We can’t leave that out, you guys. We
just absolutely can’t leave that out.

Mr. Larson: Tell me if I’m wrong in terms of what I’m hearing here. If I was to address
Arne Duncan right now, I’d try to urge him to say you know what, you’ve got to look at
the whole picture because we’re not doing a whole lot of that. And maybe you’re in a
position where you can do that now. And what is the continuity from the early childhood
straight through, including the teacher preparation, including once they get to college?
Why don’t we start looking at continuity, because we don’t do that. It seems like he’s in
a position where he’s got to address the really difficult things that are right in front of him
right now, but at the same time down the road, too. Both those things have to be
happening. And we do so much redressing in this triage kind of way that everything
waits. So I’m advocating, I’m hoping for some continuity, a sense of continuity, and a
sense of what’s the whole picture, what are all the elements and how do they connect.

Susan: Which means that you need something that’s generative, and I think that’s
what’s missing in education. We keep doing stuff. [Laughter.] Let’s do some [sited]
reading things. I’m a reading culture, 27 schools in Chicago, so I get the spectrum of
going through Chinatown, Pilsen, West Side. And during those schools we’ve got a
classical school all the way to schools that are in turn around processes, neighborhood
schools to magnet schools; we see it all. What I don’t see is that there’s nothing
generative about getting excited about going to school.

I have a 19-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old. Talk about in a school setting


where they’re supposed to be excited? They’re not. My kid who’s in college. Not
excited. It’s just – got to get through this because, you know, I see the rainbow, you
know, the pot of gold at the end. We’re talking 19-year-old in college all the way to
looking at kindergarten students not understanding because the teachers and the school
system doesn’t have this idea of what’s our purpose here, to get them through another
day, so that they come back tomorrow and we get some more funding because they’re
here for attendance? There’s nothing generative about what we’re doing when it comes
to education, so what’s our purpose? How long have we been in the millennium?

Female Voice: What do you mean by generative?

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Susan: What I’m saying is that, like, learning is generative. What I learned today about
problem solving, no matter where I go, whether it’s in vocation or higher ed, I will be
able to use what I know about problem solving, about the task of solving problems, and
not be afraid of the challenge. That’s generative, no matter whether you’re a five-year-
old or 15-year-old or 50-year-old. What’s not generative is today I’m going to learn my
main idea. For a reading perspective, you change the passage on me and what I knew
yesterday and got correct on a test for main idea is not going to be today because you
changed the passage and you changed the genre, right? You changed the voice and what
I had to read. So those things aren’t generative.

Female Voice: So you’re talking about, kind of, that would go with teacher preparation.

Female Voice: Absolutely.

Susan: Absolutely, because are teachers being prepared right now? Like you said,
they’re not going to be able – what they need to do in the classroom is passé already. The
universities aren’t up to speed, we’re not up to speed. So how do you do that? Start
working on generative things that are going to be able to transfer into no matter what
your setting is. That’s what we need, teachers who are smart about problem solving
because today what you told me about guided reading does not work in the classroom
right now.

Ms. Washington: I think that sometimes when things become less generative, and as
educators you throw aside those skills that are supposed to be transferable or transferred
to real life situations, it’s because of some of the unrealistic accountabilities that are
placed upon teachers who now feel that let’s compartmentalize factoring – I’m not a math
teacher – factoring, I’m an English person – and looking at main ideas and trying to do
context clues. A child will only do what they are allowed to do and encouraged to do.

So if we’re not encouraging how to look or follow a recipe or be able to figure out how
much of a tip we’re leaving at the restaurant, then we do them a great disservice. We’re
teaching ten years behind. Many students don’t have the technology in their homes, and
there are many schools that don’t have the technology as well for them to utilize the skills
that we teach. So yes, it has to be generative, but in teacher preparation, it goes hand in
hand with the curriculum. You can prepare teachers all day to teach globally, with a
global perspective, and encourage and bring about those changes that you need to see
emotionally, as Linda spoke about, and academically, but until we come together fully
with the curriculum and how we prepare teachers, then we stagnate.

Mr. Belmonte: I have to try to see this in a particular leap, in looking at this through the
eyes of early childhood, math and science, and how these comments that have been
expressed – and literacy, because that seems to be the triangulation that exists, the big
triangle, the big diamond now: early childhood, literacy, math and science. Somewhere
within those four will this nation be saved. At least that’s how it’s being presumed. And
starting with our early childhood specialist on the corner here, Zio, how do you think this
works?

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Ms. Ziomara Perez: Well, I wanted to mention a couple of things. First in terms of the
student teaching component. I’ve been now teaching for 12 years and I’ve hosted several
student teachers in my classroom from different universities. And I’ve had everything
from people in my classroom for five weeks, people ten weeks, 20 weeks. And I think
even the 20 weeks isn’t enough, basically. I think a full year span in a classroom would
be ideal.

Many times, especially those that come into student teaching, let’s say, in January, they
miss the whole start of the year, and they don’t get to see how a seasoned teacher gets the
children to buy into loving education and making that emotional connection with them in
order to get them to really buy into what you’re teaching them, and how it’s meaningful
to them. So definitely the year-long student teaching is something that I think is
definitely necessary. And it should be consistent throughout all the universities, because
they all require something different, and it’s kind of confusing.

The other thing that I wanted to mention, well, two things. In terms of funding, it’s like
everyone’s in line requesting a bailout. I think education needs a bailout right now. And
I think it’s just we really need something to help us get all on the same platform. There’s
just so many inequalities. My first teaching experience was at [Young] School, and it
was a school that I felt personally needed lots of resources. And I was there for nine
years, and I’ve been fortunate now to be working at Nettelhorst School. And it’s like the
other end of the spectrum. We have, like, things in abundance there. And it’s wonderful,
but I just don’t see why there should be a school that’s in need and a school down the
street that has things to share with other schools.

And so I think it all falls down to how the funding is generated: property taxes. It makes
no sense. I mean, clearly we have neighborhoods where, you know, they’re just like in
dire straits, and then we have neighborhoods that people are dying to move in there. So
how would it make sense that property taxes provide the funding for schools? That’s
really what it boils down to. And it seems like such a simple solution, so it should simply
just take place, the change. It should happen.

As far as – and this is the last comment I’ll make for now – I love being part of early
childhood, and I think that there are a lot of wonderful positives to having early
childhood centers that house preschools only or preschool through third grade. However,
I see there are endless possibilities of being in a school where you can partake with
children all the way through eighth grade. And particularly in Chicago, in Chicago
Public Schools. I feel so disconnected with the rest of my school.

For all of the professional development days that we have, all early childhood teachers in
the city of Chicago in the public school system, we are totally at the other end of the
world, while kindergarten through eighth grade are all networking, sharing ideas, and
working toward a unified concept. And here we are, we have no idea what’s going on in
the school, and it makes it very difficult for us to see the end product. Like where do we
need to send our children next year? Forget just kindergarten. How about, like, where do

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they need to be in sixth grade? We kind of lose sight of that unless we make the personal
effort to engage with the teachers in the upper grades on our own time. So right now,
definitely I think funding is something that needs to be addressed, and we don’t need to
get all creative to come up with solutions, because it’s quite simple.

Mr. Larson: I’m sorry, go ahead.

Ms. Parker: Go ahead with the math, because I’m going to do an all over picture of,
like, from all, just from what I saw, but I’m going to speak for math, too, but you’re
already current with the science.

Mr. Sam __: Well, I think a lot of the comments that have been made, I think, for me
are drawn together by an idea I think that is generative and relates to physics, which I
teach. And that is I think what a Secretary of Education can do most powerfully is define
the problem. And I think if he is able to speak about learning in a way – learning and
teaching in a way that make clear what those activities are about, I think it can change the
discourse in a way that brings it new life. And to be clear, I guess in my own experience
as a science teacher, it’s really clear to me that learning is making connections, and
teaching is not making connections for a student, but facilitating the work of students and
their making of connections themselves.

So I think what Secretary Duncan has the opportunity to do is to address these problems
that we’re talking about in just the interconnected way that we’re talking by connecting
what happens in the colleges with what happens in early childhood, or connecting what
happens in physics with what happens in math or in other subjects as well, in order not
only to solve problems more effectively, but also to create a model for what is at the root,
at the heart of the work we’re trying to do. Creating connections and creating a context
for students to create their own.

Ms. Elizabeth Kirby: I really like the way that – really quickly – I think it’s Ron
Ferguson out of Harvard defines the problem. We’ve used his work and his research at
our school. And he looks at teaching and learning through three legs of his tripod project.
It’s content, pedagogy and relationships. Those three things in place in a teacher and
happening in a classroom, then you do see student achievement. And we use that model
when we interview teachers and when we support and develop teachers as well, around
content, pedagogy and teacher relationships with students.

Ms. Parker: And I just have to add briefly that if we took a look honestly at what goes
on from early childhood to high school, everything is kind of disconnected. In the
elementary school, I would observe teachers who had four hours of language arts reading
and two hours of everything else: math, social studies, science got squished into that two
hours. So everybody had half an hour of social studies, science. The clock was math
problems, you know, like we were learning the clock, how to tell time, which is age
appropriate. But at the same time, if we’re not giving equal time, how will they learn to
love math and science as they go forward?

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So I am actually a little nervous about fostering this image of the love of math and
science because the students, by the time they get to high school, where we’re just really
intent on the content that we have to teach there, wait, I wasn’t, you know, this is
different from the math that I was doing in elementary school, like hey, you know. And
then you get all this I hate math, I hate math, I don’t want to do this. And another thing
is, we have to make math and science attractive. You know, you turn on the TV and I
want to be a lawyer, because “Law and Order” is sexy. You know, I turn on the
television and “CSI”–

Ms. Kirby: Forensic science.

Ms. Parker: –yeah, forensic science, whoo! You know, I want to dissect bo–you know,
I want to be the person who, you know, cadavers don’t scare anybody anymore because
that’s sexy. But then you come in and math and science is, you know, you’ve got to get
people who want to really make it – and I hate using the word sexy, but that’s what the
kid, you know, it’s like you have to make it attractive. Something where they’re like
ooh! You know, that problem solving. It’s that spark, it’s that when the kids get it, wha!
You know, it’s that you can tell right away, and they’re like, I think I can do this! You
know, I’ve never seen that in anything else besides in math and science. When they get
it, they’re so excited. And that’s what you try to get back to every single day with them.
And you’ve got to, like, pick that spark up. But in the earlier years, I know reading was
down and that became a push, but you’ve got to get back to making the math and science
important at the elementary level so that as it goes back up.

Ms. Washington: I don’t think that it’s not important, I think that the philosophies are
different. And when you move from early childhood to elementary to middle school to
high school and then post high school, the philosophies become different. And as
educators, educators have become conditioned to teach a particular way in which, if
we’re focusing on standardized tests and getting schools off of probation and so forth and
so on, social studies goes to the wayside and so does science. You focus on reading and
math because those are the scores that are going to remove you from “the list.” So
teachers, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling really that they’re not trained enough –
they’ve only had four hours in this subject matter, they’ve only had two hours. That goes
back to the curricular piece where it’s a mile wide and just an inch thick. So you have
teacher burnout, you have teacher...what’s the word I’m looking for?

Male Voice: Resistance?

Female Voice: Apathy?

Ms. Washington: Apathy and resistance. So that transfers to the little people that
you’re educating or trying to teach each day. So it’s easier to discuss osmosis or look at
something on TV than it is to pick up a book and read a novel and say, wow, I had that
personal experience, and oh, I’ve used a context clue to define this word. So the teaching
practices, along with, again, the curriculum, that needs to be looked at. And I wanted to
say something else, too, Linda, that you had said earlier about measurable pieces with the

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emotional piece. You know, a lot of our children are raising themselves, and they’re
latch – forget latchkey kids, they are parents.

Female Voice: That’s true.

Ms. Washington: So we can measure that. All because it’s not seen in numbers, we’re
so hooked on numbers. We forget the qualitative piece. In doing my dissertation studies,
there are many pieces of research that are out there that shows that consistent mentoring
of students helps to increase student achievement. And you will see the aha moments.
You will see the I’ve got it moments across subject areas. And speaking of subject areas,
we’ve gotten rid of band and choir and all of the fine arts, so those things that they are
successful at in the early childhood, like coloring and drawing, we tell them no, you can’t
color this style, you can’t do this. Instead you need to learn this. And that ties in to,
again, the teacher preparation and the curriculum and how we, as educators, utilize and
project our philosophies about educating.

Mr. Larson: Not just to students, though. You talked about that these attitudes, apathy
and resistance, are transmitted to students. I’m afraid that’s also transmitted to young
teachers or people just entering the profession. I think we’re just awful as a profession
about the way we take in new teachers. And we tell them what to avoid and we transmit
these kind of bad attitudes, I think. And I think there’s got to be some sort of cultural
shift in the profession, too, because that’s really getting us down as well.

Ms. Broos: And that is where we have, still, teaching the same way we’ve taught for a
hundred years. We are still sitting in rows. We are still up at the blackboard. We are
doing all this. Meanwhile these kids go home, and then you were talking about, you
know, the movies, they watch TV. We don’t involve that at all in our schools. You
talked about resources. Well, we need to have the resources where these kids can really
have all the same stuff. And I think that’s where the Secretary can look at this and say,
you know, this school doesn’t have these resources. They need to have more videos, they
need to have more arts.

Mr. Larson: And know how to use them.

Female Voice: Exactly.

Ms. Broos: And I thought yesterday was just amazing, being a music teacher, to see how
much of the arts was part of the entire day. And, you know, if you don’t believe the arts
is going to be the thing in the 21st century, you need to talk to me, because there was
poetry, there were videos, there was music. And we all have to – it was spectacular. And
that’s where we’re going. We all are going to have to be able to make a video. We’re all
going to have to be able to sell ourselves. And that’s a skill that we all need to be able to
have.

Ms. Watkins: Just two really quick things, I’m sorry. So the conversation, as I’ve been
listening again – [laughter] – reminds me of a couple of things. So there’s work that’s

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been done by people long before I’d even thought about the idea of teaching as an art or a
science, but I am reminded of Sally Zepeda, who was one of our Golden Apple fellows,
and also David Hanson. So I think this argument that you guys have been talking about,
this kind of finesse to making teaching and teaching and learning sexy, is just kind of
defined in teaching as an art or a science. So if it’s a science, there’s a specific
prescription, there’s a prescribed way to do it, but if it’s an art, you make it fun, you make
it engaging, you make it so that whatever you’ve taught can be generalized from subject
to subject, so I think that’s wonderful.

And then, Mark, you just said something really critical about preparing teachers, once
again. Once we’ve prepared them, and the university certainly has a lot to learn and more
things to do, but so do we, there’s a wonderful little group, the Chicago New Teacher
Center, also out of Santa Cruz, right, who says we will prepare our teachers. And then,
once we prepare them, we’re going to stay with them, so we’re going to offer that
mentoring. We’re going to partner them with experienced teachers. And so even if you
don’t identify that individual within the school, you certainly can do it through that new
teacher center, and kind of keep them in the fold and not let them go.

Ms. Dana Dotson: And Cheryl, as a teacher of a school that’s just reopened again, I
think the whole supporting new teachers concept is really huge. So many times new
teachers are put in a classroom and just kind of thrown in there and not supported at all,
and therefore they lose their focus, like you were talking about, Mark, pretty easily. So I
think there does need to be a lot more teacher support. And I think that teacher support
does begin with knowing what it is that we need, not only just in my year or the year
above me or the year below me, but what’s the big picture for education in general. And
I think so many times people have no clue of what the big picture is, so we assume that
we know what the big picture is and we really don’t.

Ms. Washington: And I think that because education is so multi-paradigmatic, you have
the image, the public’s image of education has just taken a nosedive. You hear, “This
teacher isn’t highly qualified,” and, you know, in teacher language, for someone who’s
not a teacher, they really don’t – they may not understand what that means. So because
education has gotten such a negative public relations, if you will, stab at it, you have the
parents, on the other hand, because we can’t forget the parents. Children don’t raise
themselves, quote, unquote. They do have an adult figure in their life. And for adults
with children, they bring their own personal experiences about schools and how they
were educated to the table. So I think the big picture and that cultural shift that we were
speaking about and the big picture, we can’t leave out the parents, who also partner with
us to help the children and the youth and the teens move along that 21st century way, if
you will.

Mr. Belmonte: Last comment from Katie, and I’d like to move to another topic. Go
ahead, Katie.

Ms. Hogan: Going back just for one second to teacher retention or making sure teachers
are doing their jobs, I had an interesting conversation with a first year teacher at our

11
school who is dually certified in mathematics and chemistry, or as I like to call her, the
unicorn, because she’s impossible to find, somebody who is able to teach both subjects
well. And I was giving her a ride home after her first parent report card pickup night, and
I was asking her how are things going. It was really informal. And she said, oh, I love it,
it’s great, but it’s so hard and I’m so tired. I said I’ve been there, I know what that’s like,
and I said here are some things that I’ve been doing. And she said that’s great, but I
don’t know if I’m going to do this; I think I’m going to apply to med school. And I said
why? And she goes, because I think it would be easier to go to medical school.

And I think that it just opened my eyes, because I think if people heard that, it would
really also make them think, wow, you have teachers who think medical school would be
easier than staying in a classroom. And when we have a situation where 50 percent of
our teachers are dropping out before their third year, how are we going to get any of these
reform measures passed? How are we going to get any of these programs through? We
need to make sure that these teachers are supported, and we need to make sure that we
find not just an army of English and social studies teachers, but an army of physics
teachers, an army of chemistry teachers and early education and Special Educators who
really have that expertise, because that’s where we’re lacking.

And for somebody who’s done hiring, when I open up a position for physics, I get three,
four applications. An English teacher, I am doubling those zeroes at the end. And it’s
not that we don’t need good English teachers or we don’t need good social studies
teachers; we do. But we need more teachers who know how to teach chemistry, biology,
teachers who can work with younger kids, teachers who are bilingual, teachers who are
male, teachers who are indigenous to the community that they’re serving in.

And a lot of times people want to go to shortcuts, let’s be honest. They want to say let’s
just throw some enthusiastic 21-year-old kid to the Bronx for six weeks and then have
him come back and be a teacher because they’re excited. And that is just wrong. It’s a
disservice to not only those college students, it’s a disservice to the kids. Teaching is not
babysitting. Teaching is not parenting. Teaching is being a professional. And I think
that Secretary Duncan understands that, from my experience with him, but I think the
public needs to understand that. And the funding for teaching and teaching professional
development needs to match how important we think of teachers, because to me they’re
just as important as doctors.

Ms. Kirby: Can I say a real quick thing?

Mr. Belmonte: Please.

Ms. Kirby: I really do think that the perception of teaching needs to change. You know,
even from very young students really need to see it as a viable option. I think it’s
wonderful, but growing up, my intentions to be a teacher were not welcomed by my peers
nor my parents, who are both teachers, by the way, because they felt that I could live a
better life not in that profession. I’ve had a wonderful life in that profession. I’ve never

12
ever felt I had a day of work as a teacher. And I think students need to be exposed to that
in elementary school, to see teaching as a viable, fun, fulfilling profession.

I have a lot of friends now who wish that they had done the education courses and had
entered the profession. I think education needs a big public relations campaign. I think
students need – there need to be more Golden Apple foundations out there offering
scholarships to students within their districts if they pursue it. I mean, I really – I now
really push students towards the teaching profession if I see that glow within them, and
they’re glad that I’ve done it. And they’re also glad the Golden Apple Foundation is
around.

Mr. Belmonte: Another topic, which was sparked by one of the phrases that seemed to
have been that which has been bequeathed to us by the past administration. The highly
qualified teacher bespeaks the dreaded four words that seem to be the spark of the Bush
years, No Child Left Behind. It has acquired other kinds of terminologies. I was in
Texas once speaking, just trying to make people laugh, as usual. And over there they told
me, in Texas we call this No Teacher Left Alone. It is the one thing that is going to
continue in some form in this next administration. And so to those here who are
administrators or those who have been in the profession affected by it, what is it about No
Child Left Behind that is worth saving? What is it that must be jettisoned or transformed,
in your opinion?

Ms. Watkins: I’m atypical. So one of the pieces within No Child Left Behind that’s
almost always forgotten is the preparation of para educators. So not those individuals
who are the custodians or the clerks, but those individuals who are in the classroom
teaching right alongside teachers, supporting the modification of curriculum, those
individuals, that’s a core piece. So the problem is that states, the NCLB is there, it’s left
up to the state as to how to interpret it. And so for some states it’s okay to do maybe a
test. But for the para educators, they’re completely left just out there to fend for
themselves when they’re sitting next to a student who has a learning disability, and they
haven’t been given any strategies to support that student. They’re often the ones who
know more about that child than the teacher him or herself. So that has to be completely
overhauled. Whatever else they do with it, I think it was fantastic for paras. I think it
was fantastic. But it has to be overhauled. There has to be funding strictly for
preparation, without a doubt.

Ms. Kirby: Well, first of all, the tests are totally different. There are 50 different
measures in No Child Left Behind, so it doesn’t make sense. And that’s why NAEP
scores don’t move, right? So you can say oh, yes, our scores are going to stay in the –
that’s nice, but the NAEP scores aren’t moving, and they’re definitely not moving in high
school. So first of all, if there’s going to be a standard law, there has to be a standard test,
and it has to be the same for every child wherever they are across the country. The
Regents is pretty challenging. The do the FCAT, I think in Flor–it’s all over the map.
Come on. That’s a joke. That’s one thing. Secondly, I think the great part of it is that it
has definitely shined the light on the student who no one every paid attention to, the
student with a disability, the student who is low income, the student who is a minority

13
student, you know, gender, all that. So now you really do have to pay attention to
everyone. That’s great. A hundred percent of students at meeting or exceeding standards
by 2013, 2014, come on. That’s all politics.

Ms. Watkins: That just says you’ve forgotten about the child with a disability. My
children with autism who can’t take ISAT.

Ms. Kirby: Yes, right, right. So it’s, I mean, to me it’s disingenuous. Now, I think the
accountability piece has been great, and people start hopping, NCLB, when it really
became serious. And so I think that does show that there is some power behind the act.
But I do think you have to be smart in the way that you really hold people accountable. I
really think it should be a growth measure as opposed to this is the bar, everybody has to
get to it. A student comes in who’s a non-reader in high school. I’m expected to get
them through 11 years of education in three years. I mean, that’s just – that makes
everybody throw their hands up. And that leads to burnout. And a new teacher coming
in without a lot of skills anyway, who is getting hammered on the head because the
principal is getting hammered on the head because the district is getting hammered over
the head, you know, it’s hard to see kind of any light through all of that.

Mr. Larson: I wish we could find a way to find our way back to when it had bipartisan
support and it actually made sense. The germ of it, I think, is a good idea. The
accountability piece, the idea of shining the light on students who need to have the light
shined on them. But if we could go – and then rename it, because it’s such a pejorative
now. You’d absolutely have to go back and rename it. Go back, rename it, and look at
what made sense about it and then start to rebuild. Because its implementation is where
it went wrong. It’s not a bad idea.

Susan: Your exceeds are missing, too. I mean, we’re so busy focusing all our funding
on trying to get a hundred percent that we forgot that there’s some kids that were already
meeting and need to exceed. And that’s one of the things we were seeing in our 27
buildings, is we are falling apart. So now we’ve put that as one of our goals. I agree that
it put us all aware that there are subgroups within our education that we’re failing
miserably, and we’ve been doing it for a very, very long time. So unfortunately, it took a
major policy like this to make the own profession aware of this, which was a sad thing,
that we needed somebody from the outside telling us in the profession that we weren’t
doing our job, that it wasn’t meeting needs for everybody.

But the one thing, 50 percent of my school, 13 schools got caught last year because
federal had this idea that having two tests, the state test and then one for our ELL pop–
our English language learner population wasn’t appropriate. So we – the state didn’t
have time to put another test out there and get it passed, so we had 50 percent of those
schools get caught in that AYP. What was problematic about that is we had data showing
that kids who stayed in these schools and actually worked a transition program, by their
third year of learning English, that they were able to take the state test and do fairly well.

14
What got caught in there were the kids who were just coming in. I have a Chinese
population. There’s a kid who came literally to the school the day before and took the
state test because there is, also part of the AYP, the number, your population of how
many kids have to take the test. So they didn’t want to get caught in that and not making
the AYP because we didn’t have ninety something percent of our kids taking the test. So
there’s these things that get caught in the structure of the policies that people aren’t
paying attention to. I think Arne Duncan is going to be able to do that because he was
our voice at the state level saying we’ll do whatever it takes. We’ll even pay the bill to
have some of the translations going on in the other areas to help our students in the math
portion, and the state decided it was too late.

Another thing that we looked at when we were looking at AYP, a school one year didn’t
make it because of the subgroup of Special Education. Worked on that. The following
year it was because of reading with the ELL population. Third year it was because of
ELL population in mathematics. So never was it three years in a row for the same
subgroup, but they weren’t on AYP three years in a row, therefore they’re now in
restructuring. So something’s wrong with the way you’re looking at the all or nothing,
because there is a school that really did do and adjust and adapt their instruction and their
meeting the needs, and then they got dinged on something totally different than the
previous year.

Ms. Kirby: And again, it’s consistency. In some states they test the ninth grade in high
school. In some it’s tenth grade, in some it’s eleventh grade. I mean, it doesn’t – what
are we saying about what it means to be a good school in the United States of America?
There are 50 different definitions.

Ms. Hogan: Or when do you do the test. For example, we test three weeks into the year.
So how am I going to be evaluated on my performance in three weeks if somebody else is
being evaluated at the semester? So like you’re saying, with consistency across the
board, there has to be something around timing. And that can’t just be – it needs to be
about common sense. That’s where we’ve lost the common sense.

Susan: But those aren’t the decisions made in Washington, D.C., when you test. That’s
a state level. So, you know, I mean, I’m always leery about, like, having Arne think
about these things and then mandate something that will stranglehold us or get us in the
long run. There’s a reason why 50 states have 50 different tests. What they were
thinking of what should be tested was appropriate for their population. I would be really
scared to go get somebody else’s test knowing, because part of what I do is work on the
state test. Not that it’s a perfect test for everybody, but I’m just leery because that would
mean that we would need to go look at somebody else’s test and have a committee sitting
there dissecting what they do. Part of the State of Illinois test is criteria and reference.
Those are designed by teachers who are in the classroom saying this is what I think my
fifth grader should know. There is also part of the state where it’s, the alternative
assessments, where a kid should be able to fall under that category if they truly cannot
meet these basic standards that the state has set out.

15
Female Voice: But it’s really hard to get alternative assessment.

Female Voice: Absolutely.

Susan: And that’s also something at the state level that we should be talking about. So
it’s one of those where how much do we want Arne Duncan doing at the federal level
that’s going to then impact the state level? You know, it’s like, so we need people
talking like this saying, like, you know, what’s your goal here? Here’s what our goal is,
and does this make sense that we test three years into the...

Female Voice: I have to disagree with you because what’s the test that the country’s
measured on? It’s the NAEP, right, for the most part. Or the PIMS, the international test,
right? I can’t remember the–

Female Voice: TIMSS?

Ms. Kirby: TIMMS, right. So, I mean, and if that’s going to be our measure as a
country, then we really need to look at what those standards are, what those skills are,
and to make sure that – and certainly there are some state concepts, so I understand that,
so I believe there can be some flexibility that’s built in, but to make sure that those are
the standards to which every student is taught. I mean, because, you know, I’m talking
about Illinois and Ohio having different tests. Like, I don’t think those are very different
states.

Susan: We have a standardized portion on the state test in Illinois, so we can always
gauge how our kids are going to do on NAEP. So the problem wasn’t because we didn’t
have the right test. The problem was we still haven’t adjusted what we need to get the
students ready to take whether it’s the NAEP, the national test or to take the state test We
have the data, and the data just says we’re not doing what we need to do in the classroom.
Which comes back to Sam’s point, which is if Arne Duncan could figure out what the
problem was, then that’s what we should be focusing, and I think that’s going to be the
hard part because it’s hard to say what is our problem.

Mr. Larson: You know what I’d love to – go ahead.

Ms. Perez: I’m thinking No Child Left Behind, the higher standards that it proposes for
education are wonderful. However, in theory that sounds great, but logistically I don’t
think that was looked upon to see how it was going to actually come to life. And one
thing that I think is unfair is to compare a school that has a small class size and compare
those scores to another school who is dealing with 35 plus children, the teacher is unable
to differentiate any instruction there, they lack materials. And then their scores are also
being compared, and in the end, the teacher is being evaluated based on that. Maybe this
is a wonderful teacher and is making the best opportunity for her children in the
classroom, but if she’s lacking all these resources, which again falls back to funding, it’s
very unfair, and I think that’s one thing that needs to be looked upon. And it’s – you
know, it’s money, money, money. That’s really what it is.

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Mr. Larson: It’s kind of a question of – at this juncture, this is a – you’ve identified this
as a moment to be having this conversation. And it seems to me who should be offering
those other possibilities, and I think it ought to be us, to a certain degree, and to seize that
moment. I’d love to see, you know, Barack Obama was just inaugurated yesterday, as we
speak. And so I’m still in the mind of let’s think in terms of that was then and this is
now. Because there’s something uniquely Bushian about what happened to NCLB. It’s
punitive, it’s rigid, it doesn’t make sense. It lost its sense by being so, you know, fervent
about it.

But we’ve got a new president, and isn’t this a moment to say let’s look at this again and
let’s look at it with fresh eyes. I was always frustrated with our profession. I get
frustrated with our profession the way I get frustrated with family I love. I’m frustrated
that we did a lot of complaining about it, but we weren’t offering something instead. And
we should have said, you know, what, how about this? But we weren’t offering
something, we were just beating it up. Now is the moment to do that. I think there’s
receptivity, would be receptivity to it, both from the new president and the new Secretary
of Education.

Mr. Belmonte: Well, let’s – I’m sorry, go ahead, Linda.

Ms. Parker: I was just going to say can we also just get to the purpose of education as
well? After eight years, have we achieved what we set out to do in terms of the human
beings we have now released onto society? Do we have any more engineers? Do we
have any more people who are going to run the country to the point where we feel
confident about what’s happening? You know, I speak to people at Arthur Andersen,
people who actually hire people in different fields who are like, ooh, you know, the kids
are coming out and they don’t really dress up for the interview anymore, and they’re not
speaking to make me confident that they know what my firm is about, or confident that
they can learn the things that I need them to learn.

So whatever they call the next thing, I want to know, is it going to prepare citizens that
we’re all confident we can go to our retirement beds and say the country will be okay?
Because that’s what I’m wondering if that’s lacking. Like, we all know what score we
have to get and we all know what has to be done to get the kids in the right school to get
to where they want to go, but is it producing the citizens that we all knew we wanted to
see happen when we went into this profession in the first place, like, where are those
citizens.

Ms. Dotson: And I think as Carol was saying earlier about we need to actually go back
and sort of rethink education and what it’s all about because I think we’ve kind of lost
sight of it, and not only in losing sight of it, just our society and the world has changed so
much, and I don’t think education is changing enough with it. So I think we really do
need to go back and sort of rethink what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So I think
as we have this team of people who are working on the current problems, there does need

17
to be a team of people that are out there trying to plan ahead, as opposed to just trying to
go in and fix the problem, as you were alluding to earlier, Mark.

Ms. Broos: And you were talking a little about the engineering, do we have enough
engineers. And one of the things that we have lost, I think, is the creativity. And it’s
interesting that Apple and Google, at their sites, they have – I was a Google educator, got
to spend the day at Google, and they have a room where it’s just a play room. And the
reason why they have a play room is because they want people to expand and create.
And we have lost that in classroom, and I think a lot of it is because of all the testing.
We’re so worried about tomorrow and can we get all this stuff done that we don’t allow
our students to experiment. And that’s where the creativity comes out. That’s where you
get the engineers. That’s where you get the mathematicians. Some student coming up
with some cool physics problem that he never even thought he could do because he had
the time.

Female Voice: And that’s problem solving.

Ms. Broos: And that’s problem solving. And we need to teach students not so much how
to learn, but to have the love of learning and to teach themselves. I mean, Apple, just a
week ago, I had four kids in the classroom that came in during lunch because they were
just putting out their new thing, and we watched it all on video stream, and all their new
projects. And these are kids in class that could care less, but now they’re watching the
new products come on. They can’t wait to see. And now for five dollars you can get a
music lesson. We’ll show you how to play the guitar. Okay, five dollars. Okay, these
people are buying this stuff, okay. We’re selling it free. [Laughter.] Okay? And these
kids are running home and buying. So we’ve got to figure out what they’re doing and put
it into our classrooms, because we’ve got it.

Ms. Washington: You know, just in addition to what you’re saying and what Dom was
asking also about specifically–

Mr. Belmonte: Why don’t you wait one second for the... [Siren going by.] Got five
minutes? Thank you.

Ms. Washington: Specifically about No Child Left Behind and the creativity. If we are
pushing technology in the classrooms, then shouldn’t that be an option to take some test
on the computer? I mean, you can take your GRE on the computer now instead of paper
and pencil. I think we’re not moving forward with that. The other thing with No Child
Left Behind, there needs to be a timeline that’s realistic to prepare students, and I think
that Katie or Dana said something about that. And with my darling or our darling ELL
students, is it a setup for failure or is it to measure what they’ve learned? Because I don’t
see a problem with having a – well, now the state of Illinois is moving towards a more
linguistically modified standardized test for the ISAT. But why not test them in their
native language if they’re in a transitional program? I don’t see the harm in that because
you’re looking to see what they know. You’re looking to see what is being measured.

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And there also needs to be modified testing for the LD child from both spectrums, from
the gifted spectrum and from the learning disabled spectrum. So I think that those are
some things that need to be looked at as well as our supplemental services that are
provided to schools who are underperforming and on academic watch. What happens
when their support with the school and the community and so forth, and the funding for
that? Because you can get an SES program anywhere. But is it a quality based program?
Like my institute, you bring math. It becomes creative and it becomes alive to the
students, and you get that problem solving, and then you get your engineers, and then
people are a little bit more secure in Social Security age. [Laughter.] So I think that
those are some things that we do need to look at.

Mr. Belmonte: All right, we’re going to take a time out in a moment for bio breaks and
see how much further we can go. So time out on the court. [Break and return.] I’m
going to read to you a segment of a speech from President Obama made to his White
House staff this afternoon. “Our commitment to openness means more than simply
informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that
government does not have all the answers and that public officials need to draw on what
citizens know. And that’s why, as of today, I am directing members of my administration
to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and expertise of ordinary Americans –
scientists, civic leaders, educators, entrepreneurs – because the way to solve the problems
of our time as one nation is by involving the American people in shaping the policies that
affect their lives.”

You have been called by a member of the Obama Administration, image, and you are
sitting in front of them, and they’re asking you, Golden Apple educator, how best – it can
be a two-for, you can answer either one or both – how best can we close the achievement
gap? Or how best can we address the dropout rate in this country? Consider, take one,
run with it. We’ll even let our board members, who have moved to the front row and are
leaning forward, add to it, to the conversation if they so choose. And so with that
question, we’ll conclude this round table.

Ms. Washington: I’ll be very brief if I can go first.

Mr. Belmonte: Please.

Ms. Washington: Dropout rate and achievement gap go hand-in-hand because if you’re
not achieving, you’re going to drop out, period. Mentoring, mentoring, ment–I am a big
proponent of mentoring. If you don’t have someone to guide you and show you the way,
and show you that you are capable of acquiring another language or understanding the
content that the teacher is teaching, and being able to transfer those skills into the life that
they walk each day, they’re going to eventually drop out. So I think mentoring is one of
the best ways that we can close the achievement gap.

There’s many pieces of research out there. The Big Brothers, Big Sisters did a piece of
research in the late ‘90s that showed that over 50 percent of those students who were at
risk increased their standardized test scores as well as their social interactions with staff,

19
teachers, and their peers. And I think that that’s one of the most critical pieces that our
youth need today in order to increase student achievement as well as lower and reduce
the dropout rate.

Mr. Larson: I agree. You can’t separate the two, in my mind. But what I’m going to
say is not because I’m a professor of education, I’m a professor of education because I
believe this. You’ve got to get the right people in the profession. You’ve got to prepare
them with some real skills and some flexibility, because we’re preparing them to teach in
classrooms that we have no comprehension what they’ll even be like, so how can we
teach them for that 21st century? And then find ways to retain them. Treat them well,
treat them with the respect that they deserve. So I think it has to do with getting the right
teachers, preparing them the right way, and holding onto them.

Ms. Broos: And I want to say with the testing, we’ve been very focused, I listened to
this whole discussion, on college. There are a lot of professions, and there are even
professions today in this world that college, you don’t really need. And I think we need
to look at that. They call it, you know, it’s blue collar and we have white collar and we
have the gold collar. And those are people that we desperately need. I mean, we need,
like, you know, people that are working in fields that are plumbing, that are working in
fields that are going to be – tech support.

I mean, as we talked about technology, we’re going to need people who know how to run
these computers and do all that, and that’s not necessarily a college degree. And we need
to acknowledge that and relish that and say that’s fabulous that that’s where you want to
go. And we’ve been so focused on this whole testing and getting to college, but there is
other professions that you can do and have a wonderful life. And we don’t really – those
are sort of pushed off to the side. And that’s one of the things that I think I’d like to sort
of see as this administration looks at, that, you know, we – the testing is one thing, but
also the whole idea that there is other opportunities that you can do.

Ms. Kirby: I’m a little nervous about that. I respect that opinion, but frankly, it makes
me nervous because I think people see that as an out, and I don’t think middle class
people, rich people say college is not an option for their students. And I think that we
want to give every student – I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but I get nervous
when I hear that because I know for my–

Ms. Broos: But when I say college, I mean you go to a tech school. It may not be that
you get a bachelor’s degree, but you are getting skilled in something–

Ms. Kirby: So there’s so-called secondary education.

Ms. Broos: –so that you’re not caught in this thing of going to college and getting a ten
dollar job, where you’re going for a skill, and that’s an important thing.

Ms. Kirby: You know, I think – you know what, I really think that that has to happen
regardless – I mean, there are a lot of different – folks will talk about this stuff forever.

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One thing that I really respect about the work that’s been happening in Chicago is the
research behind all the different initiatives. We’ve been very lucky, as a district, to have
– well, some people don’t think we’re lucky, but I think we’re lucky – to have the
University of Chicago and their consortium of school research looking at the different
initiatives that are being rolled out and saying this works, this doesn’t work. You know,
it saves you a lot of time and it really kind of helps you focus your energies.

And so I think to address the dropout rate in particular, they’ve done great research on the
freshman year and GPA and attendance and why that’s important. And that really has
helped align – it has helped define the problem and it really has helped to align resources
and align intention around working on particular things for students that really do impact
dropout rate, for example. So I would say make sure that the research is available to
districts and schools, that it’s consistent and it’s used to make decisions. Because the
answers, I think, are out there to really decrease the dropout rate and to continue to close
the achievement gap, but we can’t do it in the dark. We really can’t. It’s just a waste of
time, and our students don’t have the time. They don’t do high school again.

Ms. Watkins: Well, I think it’s important to realize that, kind of similar to what Carol
said, that everyone doesn’t learn the same way, and so I’m not going to beat the Special
Ed horse to death, but I am just going to give you a little bit of background information.
So when I was writing the proposal for my school, I thought about everybody I had ever
talked to, so all the educators. I talk to Dom about this all the time. I stole every idea
that you had, sifted through what was meaningful, and created our school. What I hoped
would happen certainly has happened. The children who enter the door don’t all fit.
They don’t fit that nice little mold. But we’ve shaped it to provide what they need. That
absolutely has to happen. That’s the only way you’re going to make an impact.

So people throw around buzz words, differentiating instruction. I don’t really think
people understand what that is. That means if you don’t learn this way, I’m going to
create the opportunity for you so that you can get it. That’s the only way we can close
that achievement gap. We absolutely have to do that. We’ve got to get out of this cookie
cutter notion of instruction and be brave enough, bold enough, creative enough to step out
there and do what needs to be done.

Ms. Parker: Yeah, and that’s exactly what I was thinking. I want to see school made
more interesting and relevant to our students by identifying individuals to work with
them who we don’t stand for mediocrity from, they understand what we want from the
onset, and if we get any less than that, we do just like corporate America: we will pay you
to leave.

Female Voice: Absolutely. [Applause.]

Ms. Parker: I like the fact that in CEO world we are hiring you for a job, we are going
to pay you what we feel you are worth, and if you don’t rise to that occasion, we will pay
you out and find someone who will do that for us. Which means we have to value our
teachers with what we believe they’re worth as well as someone who’s going to – and I

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don’t know who to monitor the monitor the monitor – but somebody who is going to
court them just like corporate America is. If I have to take you to McCormick and
Shmick’s to sit down and we have a steak dinner so you can clearly understand what it is
I want, so that when we sit down there is no confusion.

And then that way, when I go to the teachers’ lounge, if there’s someone negative, oh, I
can’t sit here because I have, you know, I have to go. I can’t do negativity because I have
a – you know? So that then we will get people who will say, oh, pre-med, forget it. I
don’t care how hard this is, I’m staying, because I can tell I’m valued here. So we got to
infuse the value and take out the negativity. No more standing for mediocrity.

Female Voice: That’s right.

Ms. Broos: And that goes back to your PR. We have to look at the good things. And
we don’t put ourselves out there. All of us are doing amazing things, but we talk about
the negative. And I think that’s one of the things I’d like to see, is maybe some
clearinghouse where all this good stuff is up there, so if you have a teacher that’s doing
amazing stuff in the classroom, we can see your amazing stuff. And maybe that might
help some other teacher that says wow, you know, this is a cool little thing that they did,
and I can do it, and we could make it tailored to the child, so we can see how it all works.

Ms. Washington: And that requires a longer school day. More time to do that.

Ms. Broos: Right, time.

Ms. Hogan: And Dom, when I was hearing you read that, I was thinking about the call
that our principal makes to us at the beginning of our school year, which is today, on our
first day of PD, we are all going to go out and walk and visit the homes of each and every
one of our students. And the only way that we get to do that is because I work in a small
school. So one of the things that I would recommend to close the achievement gap is to
very strongly consider the small schools movement becoming more federal, more
nationwide, because it has proven so effective in terms of making instruction culturally
relevant, allowing investment from parents, allowing teachers to feel like they have a say,
that they can influence curriculum, that they’re not just one of 150 people in the school
setting. And although the small schools cost a little bit more, that small cost pays off in
such higher graduation rates and such higher teacher retention rates that that is the most
cost effective thing I’ve ever seen in education. I would love to see Chicago’s successful
model replicated across the country, especially in areas where the schools are large and
prison-like, frankly.

Susan: I think if I was asked this question, I would be almost embarrassed to answer,
because I would say, you know, I’m humbled by the fact that you would think that I
would have any way to explain that. I didn’t drop out, I achieved. My three children are
achieving. One hasn’t dropped out. I still have two more to go, don’t know yet. But the
thing is, why are we not even asking a kid who’s dropped out that says – and we can’t
wait until they’re an adult, because some of that, you know, it’s like how did you learn to

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read? Oh, you know, and they tell you all these wonderful things, and that’s not really,
probably, how you learned to read.

So I ask the first grader who failed his test, right after testing, what word would you like
to learn to read? He said the word fish. Guess what? It’s not in the first grade
curriculum. So had I not asked the kid what is it that you want to learn today, he would
still be learning the word “the” today, which he still doesn’t get. So I think it’s like
we’ve got to ask. My context is so highly specialized. It’s what I know, and it’s the
evidence that I have with the kids I’ve worked with for 17 years in the classroom, and 11
years as somebody in schools. But I still don’t have the answer.

My motto was for everything in research, I can show you two more situations and two
more kids that it didn’t really apply. So it’s ask the kid who’s dropping out right now. I
asked my three kids these questions before I came here. I said, what’s the solution? All
three of them gave me totally different answers, and ones that I did not expect to come
from a kid who wants to be an engineer, and the one who wants to be in the humanities.
They were talking as if I didn’t even know my own kids. So that’s what’s really scary.

Every time I open my mouth, it’s like I know that there’s at least five more situations in
my life that I’m going to run across something that’s going to prove me wrong with what
I just said, because I don’t hear the kid who dropped out. I mean, as a fifth grade teacher,
do you have the kids come back to you and say, you know what, I dropped out because
you didn’t teach me that day? That’s who we want to find out. Who’s not achieving,
right? The time we get our test it’s too late to say, you know, what did I do that didn’t
help you not achieve this year? The kid’s gone. So sometimes I think we’ve got to ask
the people who are in those situations, what do you need?

Ms. Watkins: I love that. I have to say this because what Susan just described is what,
Mark, you’ve been talking about in teacher preparation. But if you don’t know what we
need at the school level, then what are you preparing and who are you preparing? So the
dialogue has to be strengthened from the university to that local constituency so that we
can get the message right and get the work right.

Mr. Larson: Absolutely. Good question.

Ms. Watkins: Yeah. I love that.

Mr. Belmonte: We have been so patient in having a group of people who haven’t said
anything all evening, to which I want to turn to, in a concluding fashion, for perhaps
more closure on the topics. And Max, our former board chair and former state
superintendent, certainly, we’d love to hear your opinion.

Mr. Max McGee: Well, I’ll tell you, when I presented so many Golden Apple awards
standing up there in a tuxedo, I knew we had amazing teachers, but being here today even
has thrilled me more, to hear the kind of input and ideas and feedback and counsel. It is
just – it is spectacular and energizing and inspiring. I’d just like to address your last

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question, because as a former Golden Apple chair and former state superintendent,
closing the achievement gap was truly my mission. And one, just to bring together a few
common themes, was leadership. And we heard about Katie’s principal. Katie, most
principals would never even think of that. What we hear from our school leaders here.
Cheryl, I visited your school. You walk in there, it’s a culture of high expectations. No
one will be allowed to fail.

Ms. Watkins: That’s right.

Mr. McGee: If you fail, we fail. That’s the culture of Pershing School.

Ms. Watkins: That’s right.

Mr. McGee: And that’s the first thing. The second piece is it’s not about curriculum
alignment. We have enough curriculum chiropractors. It’s about teach the way the
students learn. It’s about instruction. Find the way they learn and teach it. The research
part, I just read a [Rybrook] study on the failure of boys in the Chicago Public Schools.
Boys learn different than girls. Let’s teach the way they learn. Third point is to extend
the learning, not just after school, but summer school. Summer is just a horrible time for
some of these students. There has to be a way to extend learning.

And you talked about technology, Carol. We can do this with technology. Extend
learning throughout the summer. Fourth and final is a community commitment. The best
school leaders, closing the achievement gap cannot happen in isolation. It happens with
community commitment, engagement. We are, in my wife’s words, college bound. Not
just the students, not just the teachers, it’s the whole community. So I want to thank you
for your insight, but also for your advocacy. And as we leave here, as people see this
tape, I hope they focus on what advocates can really do and make a difference, and that
we can carry this conversation forward. So thank you for the opportunity to weigh in.

Mr. Belmonte: Thank you. Reed?

Mr. Reed Badgley: Yes, my name is Reed Badgley, and I have the great privilege to be
a board member of the Golden Apple Foundation. And I have been enthralled by your
discussion, by the ideas and suggestions that you have all presented tonight. But I’d like
to make a suggestion regarding funding. I have just received, as I suspect have all of you,
my federal income tax form. And every time I look at that form from years past, the first
is a box that we check, would you like to contribute one dollar to the presidential
campaign? I’ve never checked that box, and I’d be kind of curious to how many others
have checked it. I urge Secretary Duncan and President Obama to delete that request and
replace it with a box that says, would you like to contribute one dollar to the education of
your children?

Female Voice: Wow.

Mr. Badgley: That’s my contribution.

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Female Voice: I’d check my box.

Female Voice: I would, too.

Mr. Belmonte: And with that, I thank you for your time and your expertise and your
devotion to children and to the mission of Golden Apple that believes that all children
deserve excellent teachers. Thank you very much for watching. Good night. [Applause.]

[End of recording.]

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