Sustainability: Out-Live Out-Last Out-Reach  Panel

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Panel: Sustainability and Funding
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Posted by: Judith Fonzi
Posted on: May 16, 2001 at 1:55 PM
I find this conversation fascinating. We began our first LSC project believing that all we needed to do was "teach" the faculty about math, teaching, learning, and exemplary materials, and foster a collaborative culture among the math teaching faculty (we were a middle school math project). We did those things fairly well yet in two of our four districts the progress made towards reform essentially eradicated when top administrators changed as precisely the time the project ended. Therefore, we began our second systemic reform project (funded by DDE) realizing that we needed to "teach" everyone -- administrators, parents, counselors, teachers, and kids -- about math, teaching, learning, and exemplary materials, that we needed to foster (sometimes on not so subtle ways) and support the development of a collaborative culture among ALL constituencies (this I think is what Mike means by "vertical teams guiding the reform". Again we have four districts, despite the fact that we are only in our 2nd year of this project 2 of the 4 districts have developed strong healthy vertical teams and we already see the building of some critical elements of an "improvement infrastructure". For example, both districts, through collaborative discussions, have developed and communicated "visions" for mathematics education; both districts have created TOSA positions (using their own funds) for mathematics at the elementary and middle school level; both districts have developed curricula implementation plans that include holding teachers accountable for implementing the adopted curricula. Our third district is moving in these directions but at a slower pace. Our fourth (a large urban district)is another matter. This raises the question: how do you break into a large district's culture ? The administative webs are tangled, the sources of decision making are blurry, and small reform fires don't seem to catch. How wide does that "vertical team" have to be (or how crooked is the line) and how do you get to the top ?

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