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YEAR IN REVIEW: Big Education Ideas Of 2008

E_largeThe NY Times Magazine listed a few education-related ideas in its annual Year In Ideas issue last week, but none of them (Kindergarten Redshirting Is Bad, Two-tier Teacher Contract, The One-room School Bus) seems particularly transformative to me with the possible exception of the one that doesn't really exist (the two-tiered contract). 

So what are the really big ideas of 2008? A couple that come to mind include unionized charters (like Green Dot) that could finally unlock the innovation-security puzzle, open-source software and textbooks that could free districts from costly budget items, "artsy" charter schools that emphasize enrichment as well as remediation, turnaround efforts (they're back!), and -- perhaps the biggest idea of all -- the idea that real-world experience still counts. 

I'm no big cheerleader for Arne Duncan (and I know he lacks classroom or building-level experience that some insist is necessary), but I still think that the education idea of the year may be that president-elect Barack Obama ultimately chose someone who worked inside the public system rather than many others who study or support or chatter about schools from the outside.   The big real takeway for 2008 may be the enduring value of real-world experience at the district, state, or federal levels.  Whether or not the experience is particularly successful or not is, alas, less important than that you've had it.  But at least you'll know how these worlds really work.

What are your nominations for big education ideas of 2008?


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