Each week one of our team members shares a Weekly Remix Round Up - an article they've read, a conversation they've participated in, etc - that lifts up a topic they've been reflecting on or something that sparked their interest.
As I’ve been commenting Thomas Arnett‘s I’ve been reflecting on the range of differences between community-based organizations and schools. They show up in countless ways.
Case in point. A recent The Washington Post article by Perry Stein https://wapo.st/3FlznyE flagged the challenges community providers are having in getting their staff into schools because of the cumbersome background check process schools require.
This costly conundrum is a perfect example of the challenges that need to be overcome to truly optimize school-community partnerships. This inability of schools to move away from rigid, top down, highly integrated controls not only strangles the potential to partner with CBOs. It strangles their ability to fully embrace system reforms designed to make schools more flexible, student-centered places. (It should be noted that schools aren’t the only large system with this type of challenge. Those in the childcare licensing system have the reverse challenge of needing to dual check teachers.)
Another example. Last week, our colleague Arron Jiron shared a provocative piece by Harvard Professor Jal Mehta https://bit.ly/382AI1s. He spotlights the proliferation of “strange hybrids. Restorative justice within no excuses schools. Inquiry-driven instruction that leads to fixed learning targets… Social-emotional learning blogs slotted into factory-style schedules.” These combinations, he notes, “are not the best of both worlds. At a fundamental level, they are self-contradictory.”
Mehta, like Arnett, zooms out to help us understand the root of the contradiction – ontology. Ontology is your vision of the underlying nature of the reality or realities we operate in. In the strange hybrids, students, and staff, feel and see the contradictions between an ontology that sees students and adults as capable, responsible beings whose interests should be respected in relationship-centered spaces and an ontology that assumes that the students need to be fixed and the staff need to be carefully guided.