Naming the Moment
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Naming the Moment
EDU K-12 Education Policy Analysis for school Leaders Should intervention policies’---naming the moment---value-added assessments of diverse student groups supplant high-stakes accountability tests’ failure to measure learners’ achievement goals?
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Naming the Moment - Education Policy

   Public education so far has evaded the devastation of NCLB probably due to the political atmosphere in Congress to do absolutely nothing---except defeat Obama! No matter we are witnessing out-of-control recession, exponential dropout rates and spiraling unemployment meanwhile elected representatives are making our schools---education leaders, teachers and students---the goat of Azazel: a scapegoat of lawmakers reproach for their disinclination to do the right thing. The right thing is the course of action to equip learning systems that fulfill the vouchsafement for a democratic and egalitarian education. Political leaders abandonment of evidence-based education and schooling strategies “…has made public education itself fair game for profiteers, and this can only mean two things: corruption and higher costs” (Gibboney, 2008, p. 22). Jeering bystanders---unions, special interest groups, and administrative agencies---align the sideposts melodiously cantering---Made-in-the-USA---: a pitiful excuse for education in America.

   Teachers hugging their pacing guides are not any better off as they route-step in a parade thatwill atavistically fixate schooling on an escapade---Noah’s Ark---to the Dark Ages. As the cadence shouts ‘eyes-right’ we find education leaders deferring academic excellence to rot in poverty stricken school communities---too little, too late. Blaming the victim---students, parents, families and communities---demonstrates those right-wingers and conservative plebiscites have ‘washed-their-hands. They refuse to acknowledge the mundane ineffectiveness of market forces to counteract the nonsensical ‘talking heads’; cause professionalism in the schools to crash and burn. District managers---superintendents, divisional heads--- are ‘hooked-up’ thespians donned in kabuki “…manipulating test-scores results and subgroup sizes to make their schools look better rather than condemning NCLB itself as an attack on the oldest, most democratic of public education in the world” (Gibboney, 2008, p. 24). Sputnik woke-up the United States from a Grimms’horrific brain freeze. NCLB conjures the poltergeist to sideswipe education leaders from the conclusion that private enterprise which quantifies student performance is a clear and present danger for democratic education, hence “seize the moment” (The Catalyst Centre, 2002, p. 3). Cavanagh (2000) recaps that “[seizing] the moment advocates and necessitates alliances across many sectors (from labour to community to academia) and between different social movements” (p. 73).
   Kingdon (as cited in Kirst and Wirt, 2009) synthesizes three domains the school and its environment expedite political coalition: 1). Problem-posing, 2). Policy-oriented, and 3). Political opportunity (p. 95). Only reinventing the wheel for a busted axle fails getting the carriage on the road. First, education shareholders---internal and external---need to be persuaded that attention to a challenge or threat is eminent. Re-envisioning how alternative ways of understanding situations depends on each coalition member’s belief system. This dialectical approach is the process of deliberation over four problematic concerns: 1). Resources, 2). Interests, 3). Demands, and 4). Support (p. 59). Second, dispensing of the liturgy of ‘weighing the hearts’---merits of suggested SWOPS--- school policymakers are unleashed to question what must be done to carry us to that place. Priority assignments of problems are configured by their operational value to pursue the aforementioned problematic concerns as: 1). Academic Excellence, 2). Social Justice, and 3). Commitment (p. 243). Third, in the “assumptive worlds of policymakers” designees according to Kirst et al. (2009) found that they were accountable to three experiential behaviors: 1). Who will initiate policy action? 2). What are the unacceptable ones? 3). What are the consequences for carrying them out? (pp. 260-261).

   On the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland by distancing herself from the death grip of Occidental mercantilism emphasizes high regard for the education, safety, and general welfare of all of its citizens, particularly her vulnerable youthful students (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2008). They refuse to adopt the “test and threat” high stakes accountability measures for schooling and education as their redeemer so pressured in the United States. While the United States condones standardization---a unity in global demise---this creates the “…prospect that America’s next generation will be uncouth, uncultured, and unfit” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2008, p. 136). Gibboney (2008) states that “[i]n 2003, students in Washington, D.C., for instance, scored lower than those in 36 nations in mathematics, and 26 nations outscored Mississippi students in science” (p. 23). A counterargument is that countries in the Old Country are homogenous people historically attached to the land, culture and politics. However, not able to rest on our laurels Canada toyed with standardization in the past has resisted trivialized quantifiers, such as, “…overly-prescriptive models that characterized literacy strategies in the U.K. and U.S.” which divide and conquer policymakers---unions, teachers, parents (p. 138). In the United States unlike our neighbors of the north--- Canada--- is savoring a philosophy of pedagogy to engage the unique circumstances of race, gender, ethnicity, religious and LGBT studies.

   How do we phoenix out of this desolate landscape of underperforming schools, class atrophy and oppressive teaching methods---content-centered curricula? An interesting trait in American lifestyles is their inspiration to mobilize action groups to steer policymakers toward the professional capacity to change the direction of education in learning organizations. Once touted as fodder for situational comedies the PTO or PTA has outreached into the community, faith-based organizations, district board meetings and federal agencies to coalesce with “[a] new wave of community and youth organizing, supported by such powerful funders as the Ford, Hazen, Mott, and Gates foundations, [to help] to get us beyond the deep reforms with shallow roots” (Usdan & Cuban, as cited in Hargreaves & Shirley, 2008, p. 140). From the New England States to the Midwest community steering cooperatives improved AYP’s, skyrocketing teacher attrition and student-centered teacher recruitment programs that shone NCLB’s defeatist philosophy (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2008).

   This exciting incident of community activism has prompted renewed interest by educational collaterals to analyze the process by using action research. Teachers are the best practitioners to study their implementation of instructional strategies in comparison to student performance and learning achievement while in the classroom (Foreman-Peck & Murray, 2008). Teachers become more than lecturers or even facilitators by transforming into action-oriented teams for change. The teams conceived by teachers, though often mistaken for adversaries, are the parents, students and community affiliations---share in the learning outcomes of our students. Foreman-Peck and Murray (2008) stipulate “…’what works’ in classroom practices is not only shaped by local context…but also by the educational values and principles that teachers and school communities are trying to realize” (p. 150). Hoyle, Bjork, Collier and Glass (2005) stress that this modality of cooperative pedagogy “…shift[s] from the traditional norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, multiple-choice, and completion tests to more authentic measure [of]…performance events…” (p. 23). Furthermore, Weick’s (as cited in Hoyle, et al., 2005) loose coupling theory is facilely used to discern how administrative decision-making can be linked to classroom action research. Guba and Lincoln (as cited in James, Slater & Bucknam, 2012) developed four value-assessments of trustworthiness to understand communication, collaboration and consensus for intervention with policy-decisions that impact school effectiveness: 1). “Does it demonstrate true value to the context from which it is taken? 2).” Is it applicable to arenas outside of itself?” 3).”Are findings and conclusions consistent with the evidence?” 4).” Do findings and conclusions demonstrate neutrality?” Cavanagh’s (2000) seize the moment’s “…model of collective learning” is revealed through an action-reflection-action approach to political activism relevant to learning communities.

   Wenger (as cited in Driscoll, 2005) believes that diverse student groups taken together with scientific-based research is evidence of “learning as participation in communities of practice” (p. 159). He states, “[l]earning as participation in communities of practice…implies that [teachers] participate in more than [facilitator or lecturer] and that they achieve their identity in each [role] through their personal trajectories of participation” (p. 160). It is this rewarding enactment of teacher/student exchange where the teacher becomes the student and the student becomes the teacher “…that the culture of the classroom has to change” (p. 177). This change is an intentional, concerted and shared enterprise to use the situation to explore and understand the acquisition of new knowledge. Students are empowered with the responsibility for their own learning and teachers learn more about their professional capacity. Freire (1983) states, “[a]s we attempt to analyze dialogue as a human phenomenon, we discover something which is the essence of dialogue itself: the word” (p. 87). This ‘word’ is the ‘aha’ moment which transforms action-to-reflection which becomes purposeful learning---praxis. In this realm of reflection-in-action teachers “…struggle against rigid order of lesson plans…objective measures of performance; they would question and criticize the fundamental idea of the school as a place for the progressive transmission of measured doses of privileged knowledge” (Schon, 1983, p. 334).


Cavanagh, C. (2000a, June). ‘Naming the moment’: A participatory process of political analysisfor action. Retrieved from 03819.pdf

Cavanagh, C. (2009b, July 13). Comeuppance: Naming the moment & community development.Toronto, ON: The Catalyst Center. Retrieved from

Driscoll, M.P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: PearsonEducation, Inc.

Foreman-Peck, L. & Murray, J. (2008, August). Action research and policy. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42(1), 145-163. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2008.00630x

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed.. New York, NY: The Continuum InternationalPublishing Group, Inc.

Gibboney, R.A. (2008, September). Why an undemocratic capitalism has brought publiceducation to its knees. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(1), 21-31. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2008, October). Beyond standardization: Powerful new principlesfor improvement. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(2), 135-143. Retrieved from Education ResearchComplete database.

Hoyle, J.R. & Bjork, L.G. (2005). The Superintendent as ceo: Standards-based performance.Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

James, E.A., Slater, T., & Buckham, A. (2012). Action research for business nonprofit, & public administration: A tool for complex times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Kirst, M.W. & Wirt, F.M. (2009). The political dynamics of American education. (4th ed.).Richmond, CA: McCutchan Publishing Corporation.

Schon, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York,NY: Perseus Books Group.

The Catalyst Centre. (2002). Seize the moment: A popular education process of analysis &action for social change. Toronto, ON: The Catalyst Centre. Retrieved from

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How is the sustainability of a whole school model mediated by conflicts and consensus between academic autonomy of its faculty and the collective leadership competencies used in the governance of institutional goals?


     We expect schools to function as well as private corporations grinding and binding resolutions but rarely needing maintenance beyond lubrication and remodification of resources---cost effective automatons. This generic proposition abases the myriad of accountabilities attended by educational leaders before, during and after school throughout the pedagogical calendar. Practitioners so incline to teach and reach our kid’s motivational threshold lament over the “ones” that got away and resign themselves to be able to raise a student’s enthusiasm to perform studiously in learning activities. In the first scenario private corporations strive to balance spread sheets, minimize costs and focus on profits and products. Before-the-close-of-business pantheons of Wall Street are resurrected by consumer schools’ cuddling up to NCLB, politicking promises exaggerated in Perry and Gringich’s debates; Alabama and Arizona s idea of keeping poor, minority and migrant labor families in mediocre jobs do not have clue what causes unemployment---: send them to Burger King for jobs! (Sidorkin, 2007).

     In the schools educational leaders and followers are “…embedded in a context of feeling and affect; thought influences, and is in turn influenced by, that context” (Dorner, 1996, p. 8). This should not be taken as preaching to the choir nor speculate about the dilemma being real: “…creating a collaborative culture focused on student needs, and engaging community---as well as the managerial aspects of their jobs that cannot be shifted elsewhere” (Steiner & Kowal, 2007, p. 1). Bells and whistles---salaries, fringe benefits and promotions--- drafted to kowtow support from followers---teachers, parents and constituents---is a short term solution for a long term leadership issue. Steiner and Kowal (2007) characterize a coaching strategy to steer fiducial responsibility through collaboration buttressed by individuals, intervention and invention to impact student achievement. Teacher planning days are not set at the end of the school day but organized around comfort breaks, lunch meetings and professional development seminars. On another hand classroom observation, disciplinary and counseling tactics are destructive prototypes that threaten productive teaching and learning ultimately erodes trust, belief and confidence in leaders (Showers & Joyce, 1996).

     Using a whole-school model deals with how units, individuals, and systems communicate with each other “…which is desirable because it encompasses the entire system” (Dorner, 1996, p. 90). The public is infatuated with a bureaucracy working together solving problems, dispensing information for the service and the general welfare of its constituents. Case in Point: educational leaders, teachers and consumers alike agree that how schooling operates is not above reproach---“if-it-ain’t-broke-break-it!” (Kriegel, 1992, p. 78) By analyzing the ,impasse in actualizing organizational goals, such as, shared ideas, site-specific issues, individual values and beliefs---leaders endorse risk management schemas “…[that] boost their professional skills (especially the soft skills of collaboration that are so necessary in modern work environments) require both self-and critical reflexivity” (Cunliffe, as cited in James, Slater & Bucknam, 2012, p. 78).

     Holzman (1993) stipulates at least five characteristics of systemic change in professional learning organizations: 1). Transform school-based to site-base management, 2). Horizontal sense-making decisions, 3). Communitarian – whole school model, 4). Bottom-down information, and 5). Teacher-Run Schools (p. 18). First, teaching and learning is not exclusive for students/teachers this usage also implies ‘hopping-on-the-bandwagon’ and ‘jumping-through-the-hoops’ with district, state and federal administrative agencies (agents)---coopt alliances with all facets of the school. Second, ‘misery loves company’, converse with peers, sponsors and collaterals to resolve differences, such as, teacher brain-drain, parent flight and dwindling fiscal appropriations. Third, discard ‘its-my-way-or-the-highway!” caricatures of autocratic nonsenses adopt instead a flexible and practical approach to envision threats as opportunities to imagine and create new networks for organizational change. Fourth, dispense of the near mundane image of ‘failing-schools’ and contemplate a unitary vision that our business is self-education as well as educating each other---other people’s children---regardless if it’s our school or the one crosstown.

     Due primarily to the paucity of monies flowing toward education means that schools are looking at inexpensive ways to achieve their learning goals. Collaboration is the key subsistence for the vitality of learning organizations. Raywid (1993) cites three promising commonplaces for collaboration of school functionaries---teachers and leaders---: 1). Service learning by coordinating with vocational and cultural competences; military honors, red-ribbon day and scholarship bound volunteers all will free-up teachers to confer and exchange ideas, 2). Revolving teacher’s large-class framework allows teachers to work two-three days with larger classes and be off the rest of the week while a revolving teacher fills in thereby loosening the reins of classroom management, and 3). Partnership concept with intermittent guest speakers, university interns, social-worker practicums, and the principal assuming classes---all design to alleviate the day-by-day routine of teaching while teachers become students and learn more about their jobs (teaching is a life-long learning endeavor and does not end with a baccalaureate degree). (pp. 32-33)

     What the reader has been introduced to is the extraordinary concept of peer coaching. Extra in the meaning of outside of traditional operations of schooling in today’s academic teaching institutions. Showers and Joyce (1996) reminisce how the advent of peer coaching into the learning process was met with resistance and suspicion from administrators who feared losing their status of control. With the emergence of Teacher-Run charter schools--- after failing AYP’s--- were served up to the state’s carnivorous head-chopping they aggressively incorporated coaching principles design into professional growth for teachers. Peer coaching is impossible to work if management is not involved throughout the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the process. Showers, et al. (1996) confide that their research along with comparable studies has not substantiated a statistical relevant achievement in student learning to date. Well in all honesty to the researchers the intense of the study was to foster professional development of instructional leaders and followers. In the process the next leap from post-graduate teacher training is to formulate creative paths to impact student performance and comprehension.

Peer coaching has morphed into many facets of administrative strategies to take advantage of feedback from those who have the most to gain by the implementation of training and professional development. There are consequences when feedback is given as authoritarian models of governance. Showers, et al. (1996) attest “[w]hen teachers try to give one another [constructive criticism], collaborative activity tends to disintegrate” (p. 15). Faculties are weary of any advice whether supportive or controversial as fodder for unscrupulous disciplinary outcomes. If followers suspect that admissions or declarations will come again to haunt them---tenure, lateral promotions and FCTE bonuses--- when annual reviews start one might acquiesce about flaws in administration, curriculum and issues involving reneges in accountability.

     It was for these aforementioned concerns that researchers of peer coaching analyzed real and imagined impacts on student success omitted round-robin evaluations from their action research of team participants. Their pellucid and interesting articulation of the “do’s” and “don’ts” is a distinguishing feature of what they nominally refer to as ‘cognitive apprenticeships’ as “…continuously improving its capacity to teach children” (Fink & Resnick, 2006, p. p. 5). The ‘buck’ stops with the educational leader---the principal, at the school level and the informal structure of team teacher leader groups---to coupling what they have experience about the profession with the novice instructor’s enthusiasm--- before management puts their ‘foot-in-it’. So what is the contribution of leadership to mediate conflicts and consensus between autonomy of its faculty and the collective leadership competencies used in governance of institutional goals? The contribution of educational leaders is to create an environment conducive to peer coaching, experiential learning and shared decision-making commitments.

On the district level educational administrators are cushioned from the everyday rise and fall brought-on from teacher shortages/absences, emotional disruptive students and the ‘gossip-mill’. This is why peer coaching evolution to become an art form managers on all levels are invited to participate through team building sessions. Everyone understands the benefits of sharing experiences---at the schools, and departmental sites---is a concerted movement in the context of curriculum, professional development and collegial interdependency: “[keeps] everyone’s attention focused on the district’s bottom line of student learning” (Fink, et al., 2006, p. 10).


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ProQuest database.

Dorner, D. (1996). The logic of failure: Recognizing and avoiding error in complex situations.Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

Fink, E., & Resnick, L.B. (2006). Developing principals as instructional leaders. Pittsburgh,PA: Pittsburgh University. Retrieved from

Holzman, M. (1993, September). What is systemic change? Educational Leadership, 51(1), 18.Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Kriegel, R.J. (1992). If it ain’t broke, break it! And other unconventional wisdom for a changingbusiness world. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.

Raywid, M.A. (1993, September). Finding time for collaboration. Educational Leadership,51(1), 30-34. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Showers, B., & Joyce, B. (1996). The evolution of peer coaching. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Steiner, L., & Kowal, J. (2007). Principal as instructional leader: Designing a coaching program that fits. Washington, DC: The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and

Improvement. Retrieved from

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