Friday, March 21, 2014

Duke goes down! What lesson do we learn?

Duke - mighty Duke - got beat by Mercer today.

Coach K - the household name, Olympic gold medal winning coach, 4-time national championship winning coach - out in the first round.

A 14 seed beat a 3 seed. A huge upset! Not the biggest of all time. Seven times a 15 seed has beaten a 2 seed.

But Duke - mighty Duke - beaten by a team that very few people know.

Is there a lesson for schools?

Perhaps it is this: The inevitable isn't always inevitable.

In schools we fight against some seemingly intractable problems. In our district achievement gaps continue to confound us. We have made closing achievement gaps a district goal. We have spent time, money, attention on trying to identify ways to close achievement gaps. Yet they persist.

As a result it is tempting to make excuses. Those kids who aren't achieving - well those are our special education kids, those are our ESL kids. Those tests that measure growth and achievement - they don't really work very well for our kids.

Yet if I am the parent of any student in my district, I send my child to your school because I believe that you can help. If you can't right away, I believe that you will find a way. As a parent, I do not want to hear that my child can't achieve because he has special needs or because his first language is not English.

No, when I send my child to your school I trust that you can help.

As a parent I understand that I have a part to play. I need to read to my child. I need to make sure they are cared for and nurtured. I need to establish routines. I have an important role to play.

But I send them to school to learn. Don't tell me that my child can't learn or that it is really hard.

If Duke vs. Mercer teaches us anything, maybe it is the lesson that "can't" or "won't" - as in can't win or won't win or can't learn or won't learn - should not be part of our vocabulary.

Instead, we should say - we will find a way. Nothing is impossible!

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