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April 1, 2000
Vol. 57
No. 7

EL Extra

Welcome to EL Extra. We have designed questions to help you and your colleagues foster meaningful discussions around the current Educational Leadership.
The study guide may be related to a particular article, a group of articles, or a theme that runs through the entire issue. Our questions will not cover all aspects of the issue, but we are hopeful that they will help you generate a conversation around key ideas. Feel free to adapt the questions to be more relevant to your school or school district—and you may even want to think of some of your own. Although you can consider many of the questions on your own, we encourage you to use them in pairs, small groups, or even large study groups.

The “Fads and Fireflies” of Sustaining Change

In “Fads and Fireflies: The Difficulties of Sustaining Change” (pp. 7–9), Larry Cuban, coauthor of Tinkering Toward Utopia, talks with EL Contributing Editor John O'Neil about school reforms—especially why some reforms have staying power whereas others just fade away.
Think of a few school reforms that are currently taking place in your school, district, or state. Which reforms do you think will stick? Why? What can be done to ensure that the most significant and potentially beneficial reforms are not short-lived?
Do you agree with Cuban, who says that the reforms that have the least potential for sticking are “those that try to bring about changes in teaching, primarily because those innovations are often proposed by policymakers and officials who know little about classrooms as work places”? Can you think of past examples of school reforms that have not been sustained? Why were they terminated?

Socioeconomic Integration

The move toward racial desegregation has been a major school reform of the past several decades, but now many communities are dismantling court-ordered integration. After reading Richard D. Kahlenberg's “The New Economic School Desegregation” (pp. 16–19), examine the author's thesis—that a more effective way to ensure equality of educational opportunities is to have a majority middle-class population in all schools. Do you think socioeconomic integration through “controlled choice” is viable in your community or district? Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Kahlenberg's proposal.

Your School's History

Read Jan O'Neill's “Capturing an Organization's Oral History” (pp. 63–65) and create a “Historygram” for your school. Come up with a time line of events and identify the different time periods or eras. How has the culture changed over the years? What patterns have developed? What values do you want to bring into the future? Listen to the newcomers of your group as well as to the “tribal elders” to gain insights into the future direction of your school.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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