Seattle bound

In a column on how Seattle schools can improve, Matt Rosenberg suggests setting high standards and admitting mistakes instead of blaming “institutional racism.” He urges Seattle school board members to read my book, Our School, about a San Jose charter school that’s preparing mostly Mexican-American students for four-year colleges.

Importantly, DCP teachers and administrators confronted their own missteps openly and forcefully, something today’s entrenched Seattle educrats eschew.

I’m leaving for Seattle today. Tomorrow at 11:30, I’ll be speaking at the University of Washington’s Parrington Hall (third floor Commons) as a guest of the Center for Reinventing Education. Tomorrow night, Matt is hosting a bloggers’ dinner.

About Joanne


  1. With all due respect to DCP, it’s hardly unique. There have always been educational flashes of brilliance like DCP but they’re uncommon and evanescent.

    Just a couple of miles from where I sit there was a lousy elementary school in a lousy district. That school vaulted in two years from the bottom of a nasty barrel to attainments that put it on par with some of the best elementary schools in the state. The teachers who carried out the day-to-day work are gone due to district downsizing and bumping by more-senior teachers and the principal is gone for less obvious reasons although showing up the district seems like a good enough reason.

    I’m sure if Mr. Rosenberg looked hard enough he’d find something similar has occurred in his home town and was similarly transitory. The questions that recommend themselves are: why don’t they last and why don’t they spread? What is it that kills good schools while preventing them from spreading their success?

  2. Seattleite says:

    Joanne’s talk today in Seattle was excellent. It was well attended, mostly by students from the Center for Reinventing Education, along with a few policy types. By way of introduction, the MC argued that Joanne’s topic was relevant to this audience, despite the lack of charter schools in this state.

    Joanne began with an overview of the various false leads she pursued on the way to discovering her eventual subject, DCP. She attributed DCP’s success, in part, to savvy community networking and a willingness to learn from failure. During the question and answer session, she underscored the importance of the school having a clear mission (in DCP’s case, preparing students for college) and not being distracted by “interesting” opportunities (grants) that don’t support that core mission. This sounds like good advice for any organization.