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Leading to Reform: February 10

This week’s letter highlights that leadership helps us think differently about public education, that youth are more optimistic than many, data on second generation immigrants, becoming informed about vouchers, and hope for all us that may fall between introverts and extroverts. As always, we link to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform.

What Public Education Means
Public education means many things to many different people. Some people believe it is a place where students receive an important foundation for learning and others strongly feel it is an institution that needs to change. Besides those two opinions, there many that sits in-between. Public school are changing fast and in numerous ways in spite of the obstacles and those trying to hang on to what has been in place.

One of the most important things is to put education at the forefront of our conversations and debates. Students, teachers, parents, policymakers, political leaders and school leaders are at the table where these discussions occur. They have the best voice instead of school board members and self appointed experts who seem to be speaking the loudest in their communities with their eye on the rear view mirror and public opinion than what is right for youth and teachers in the second decade of the 21st century.
Learn more at edweek.org…

Youth More Optimistic than the Rest of Us
American youth have little doubt that they will have a better life than their parents. Almost all fifth- through 12th-graders are optimistic about the future, saying they are very likely (43%) or somewhat likely (52%) to have a better standard of living, better homes, and a better education than their parents. A combined 5% of young people say the possibility of having a better life than their parents is somewhat or very unlikely.

As Collin Powell says, “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” All of us could use a bit more of that kind of thinking. Learn more at Gallup...

Adult Children of Immigrants
Second-generation Americans—the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants—are substantially better off than immigrants themselves on key measures of socioeconomic attainment, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. They have higher incomes; more are college graduates and homeowners; and fewer live in poverty. In all of these measures, their characteristics resemble those of the full U.S. adult population.
Hispanics and Asian Americans make up about seven-in-ten of today’s adult immigrants and about half of today’s adult second generation. Pew Research surveys find that the second generations of both groups are much more likely than the immigrants to speak English; to have friends and spouses outside their ethnic or racial group, to say their group gets along well with others, and to think of themselves as a “typical American.

Students' strongly positive expectations for their future contrast sharply with American adults' guarded outlook about this country's next generation. Adults are evenly divided about whether it is
likely (49%) or unlikely (50%) that today's youth will have a better life than them, according to a Dec. 14-17, 2012, USA Today/Gallup poll that asked the same question of Americans aged 18 and older

My experience makes it quiet certain that members of the second generation will have a major impact on this nation’s destiny for decades. I am confident and optimistic for our future. Thoughts?

Read the full report at Pew Research...

Michelle Rhee: My Break With the Democrats
As a lifelong Democrat, controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee never thought she’d support school vouchers. Until she did.

School leaders don’t have to agree with her but they better know what she is talking about. While one could say Rhee defines the term “resolute,” there is no doubt now she is a leading voice in the reform movement.

Those who ignore her voice, ignoring what she has to say are missing important perspective and won't be able to make smart decisions about the future of their school or district. They are not paying attention to the range of views needed to understand reform - not necessarily agree with it.

I share her view on vouchers – choice is about creating opportunity for kids where they don’t have one now. If you disagree, at least learn more about vouchers and choice so you are informed rather than relying on obsolete perspective. Learn more at The Daily Beast...

Introverts and Extroverts Succeed & Flounder
Conventional leadership wisdom says extroverts may succeed more than introverts. In fact neither do as well as a newly defined group called ambiverts. Ambi-whats? Ambiverts, a term coined by social scientists in the 1920s, are people who are neither extremely introverted nor extremely extroverted.
Learn more at the Washington Post...

Articles for the Week:

"The primary purpose of education is to cultivate a better society, not merely reflect the current one. Where is your school district on this one?" --Bill Hughes

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