Dr. Brian Binggeli is the recently selected superintendent to lead Plano ISD. His 2001 doctoral dissertation was titled "An analysis of issues that helped shape Florida public school accountability legislation: 1989-2000" On page 131 of his dissertation he wrote about the "Implications for the Educational Community" of his research. He was definitely also speaking for Texas back in 2001:
While this study was enacted primarily with the intent of informing policy makers, one important implication of the data seemed to make obvious a need to address the educational community in Florida, and indeed in the nation as well. Time and again, participants interviewed as a part of this research lamented the fact that those who represent schools and educators have brought little in the way of substantive plans and programs aimed at improving schools and enhancing learning opportunities. Yet all but the most ardent defenders of current practice say that such ideas are needed.
Given such a scenario, educators cannot be surprised with the fact that accountability efforts are being legislated without them. One need only look to the history of education for disabled children. When it became clear to a large and vocal part of society that schools were clearly not meeting the educational needs of many of these children, and seemed to show minimal concern for doing so, law makers and litigators mandated massive change. With hefty percentages of citizens supporting the concept of output driven accountability for schools and educators, that too will come.
Educators should put themselves in the forefront of accountability reform. They should develop propositions that do not shy away from, and in fact create, reasonable and meaningful methods of measuring the effectiveness of schools and programs. It is true that those with educational expertise should continue to expose those policies that are founded on bad pedagogy and science. To paint as negative every effort at reform with the same broad brush, however, invites ill will and exclusion from those who will act with or without them.I look forward to seeing his leadership continuing to reflect such sensitivities in Texas. Welcome to Texas Dr. Binggeli! (Here is his resume as of 2008.)
The best news is that educators, parents, and community leaders in Dallas have taken up the challenge that Dr. Binggeli made in 2001.
In Dallas a coalition of over 23 parent, teacher, and community organizations has formed Our Community Our Schools. They are recommending a change to focus on community schools in DISD. Such schools, with community support, provide more resources to their students to become more accountable and successful in helping all their students make significant gains in achievement!
Any individual or group can work with any school to help them move closer to the absolute community school model. Any work to make schools more responsive to the poverty and needs among their students helps that school to become more of a community school. That work can continue, or begin immediately!
Ultimate success demands that the DISD Trustees focus resources on community schools and lessen the damaging focus of financial resources, urgently needed elsewhere, on schools of choice. In practice schools of choice serve the more affluent families inside DISD. Money spent on transportation to schools of choice could be much more effectively spent improving community schools! Nothing will lessen the achievement gap faster than community school investment.
Dr. Binggeli made a challenge that needs to continue to be heard in all the U.S.! Educators and parents must take over school reform, but never shut out the business community.