#somELC It was something of an "off" year for the Yale SOM education conference – not in terms of attendance or quality of the program but rather in terms of VIPs and the atmosphere of self-congratulation. Faced with charter quality problems and political setbacks and all the rest, could reformers have finally learned humility to go along with their urgency? It wouldn't be a bad thing. In any case, there was no video greeting from Arne Duncan or even any high level USDE officials in attendance. [Andy Rotherham complained that the USDE’s Brad Jupp had to conference into the morning session because the Administration was being “run like a Central American country."] There was no Wendy Kopp, Jon Schnur, Jonah Edelman, or even Michelle Rhee. There weren’t any other reporters or bloggers there (that I know of). Some sort of fall-off was inevitable, considering that the previous two events took place shortly after Obama was elected and right when the hullabaloo surrounding the competition for Race To The Top was in full force. Plus a recession and all of that.
In a positive development for a community that can be pretty insular, there were not one but two sessions focused on unions and contracts – one morning session with the AFT’s Joan Devlin and New Haven’s Garth Harries, among others, plus a lunchtime session with the superintendents for New Haven and Baltimore plus Randi Weingarten. My small but growing list of school reform “amphibians” (those few who’ve switched from school, district, or state work to nonprofit or private sector work, or switched from labor to management): Andy Smarick, Chris Cerf, Garth Harries, Kevin Huffman, Sandra Scandera (NM state supe), Mike Johnston, Jon Schnur, Andy Rotherham (sort of), Brad Jupp, John King, Jo Anderson, Michelle Rhee.
The best session I saw focused on the reform movement’s inattention to (hostility toward?) community engagement and featured some powerful insights about why reformers often find themselves fighting against (and losing to) the people they think they are trying to help. Derrell Bradford, Danielle Smith, Ref Rodriguez, and Michala English lit up the room, IMO. Ellen Winn moderated. I wish Michelle Rhee and Jonah Edelman and others who are hoping to beef up this part of the reform effort had been there to listen because I worry that they are about to make some preventable mistakes. Reformers are beginning to understand the need for stakeholder involvement but only as an afterthought not from the start (Danielle Smith/ BAEO Connecticut)
Other things I heard, thought, saw below the jump. TLDR? Twitter feed here.