This Week's Preview

Week of May 21

When I look back on the people we have spoken with already on, it is clear to me that we’re on to something. Every day I feel extremely lucky to meet impressive heroes and get renewed inspiration in worldwide education.

I find it incredibly encouraging to talk with people like David Blake, co-founder of, which promises to be the “New Degree for the New World.” Blake believes the world of higher education is broken, as is doing something about it by launching a completely new way to earn a degree. And Blake is not alone. I recently shared with you Harvard and MIT’s latest venture in online degrees: edX. And just this past week, Thomas L. Friedman wrote in the New York Times about Coursera, another interactive university
that hopes to revolutionize the world of higher education. Friedman notes that, “These top-quality learning platforms could enable budget-strained community colleges in America to ‘flip’ their classrooms. That is, download the world’s best lecturers on any subject and let their own professors concentrate on working face-to-face with students.” The possibilities are incredible. Talking about “Flipped classroom”, thiw week I will share with you insightful interviews with Jon Bergmann, who pioneered the model and Kris Chinosorn, who leverages this trend to promote personalized learning.

While these events are cause for optimism, of course, we can’t ignore the challenges we face daily as we aim to create a world where educational opportunities exist for every child, regardless of background, race, socio-economic level or geography.

I read another interesting article in the New York Times this past week. This article, by David L. Kirp, argues that we have turned away from a proven strategy to close the performance gap: desegregation of schools. Kirp contends that the experience of being in a desegregated school made all the difference in the lives of those students, and in the lives of their children as well. “Why?,” says Kirp. “For these youngsters, the advent of integration transformed the experience of going to school. By itself, racial mixing didn’t do the trick, but it did mean that the fate of black and white students became intertwined. School systems that had spent a pittance on all-black schools were now obliged to invest
considerably more on African-American students’ education after the schools became integrated. Their classes were smaller and better equipped. They included children from better-off families, a factor that the landmark 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity study had shown to make a significant difference in academic success. What’s more, their teachers and parents held them to higher expectations. That’s what shifted the arc of their lives.”

It is a fascinating article, and I encourage you to read it. And if you haven’t yet, I also encourage you to read last week’s post by teacher Dawn Fregosa. Fregosa became a teacher as part of Teach for America, and she is on the front lines of education today, teaching in urban Oakland, California. I wonder what Fregosa and other teachers think about this article? What do you think? What gives you hope?



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