This was written by George Wood, superintendent and secondary school principal at the Federal Hocking Local School District in Stewart, Ohio.  He is also the executive director of the Forum for Education and Democracy and chair of the board for the Coalition of Essential Schools.

By George Wood

When I left the university ranks some20 years ago to become principal, one of the first things I missed about my old job was having the time to read. Now, as both superintendent and principal, reading time seems even more precious but even more important. So I find myself grabbing quick reads, and three of them hit my desk over the holiday break.

The first was The Atlantic magazine story on Finland’s educational success. If you haven’t tired of reading about why we keep getting it wrong while Finland gets it right, this is worth a look. The new twist in this piece are the comments by Pasi Sahlberg from the Finnish Ministry of Education noting that Americans simply ignore what is crucial to Finland’s success: A focus on equity over excellence.

Next was a post on the School Finance 101 blog, asking for six studies to be carried out. Each would focus on whether or not charter schools and private schools actually do outperform public schools, adding some evidence to the “reality free zone” in which most educational policy debates occur.

Finally, and just to prove that asking for evidence does not mean I am anti-charter, Joe Nocera’s op-ed piece in The New York Times on the success of the partnership between The Learning Community, a charter school, and the Central Falls, Rhode Island, elementary schools. If ever there was a model for how charter schools are to work — successful with the same students the pubic schools have and sharing their results with public school partners — this is it.

These three short pieces that could be handed to any policy maker and might just get him or her to think for a moment about changing the direction in we are taking toward education reform.

Of course, that means policy makers would have to find the time — and have the inclination — to read them.


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