Districts and Schools That Succeed

Karin Chenoweth

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Karin Chenoweth presents: Districts and Schools that Succeed

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Karin Chenoweth

Chenoweth describes her work:
In the twenty years that I have been writing about schools and education, the national conversation has gone from complacent to near-frantic. Critiques of public education have reached such a feverish pitch that a casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that no one really knows how to run good schools. And yet, all over the country are schools with large populations of students of color and students from low-income families that are helping just about all kids achieve. The educators in those schools have figured out how to ensure that all the systems in their schools line up to support teaching and learning.
In my last book, Schools That Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement (2019) I explored what it looks like when expert school leaders ensure that all of a school's systems, from supplies and schedules to discipline systems, are designed to support instruction. Schools that Succeed builds on the previous trilogy of "It's Being Done" books (more about them below) but digs deeper to help educators see how they can move forward, even in dismaying circumstances.
In my newest book, Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement (2021), I broaden the lens to look not only at schools but at the ecosystem in which schools live--school districts. Using the data analysis of Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and opportunity at Stanford University (edopportunity.org) and state data reporting, I identified five districts that are high-performing or improving and that serve children of color and children from low-income backgrounds. I visited them and interviewed the superintendents, principals, teachers, students, school board members, and parents. The first iteration of the work was a podcast, ExtraOrdinary Districts. When the pandemic hit, I went into isolation and wrote the manuscript for Districts that Succeed.
As I wrote in the conclusion, "The districts I have profiled in this book provide clear arguments against the idea that public schools are incapable of improvement and excellence. They demonstrate that our future fellow citizens--children from all backgrounds--are capable of getting smarter and that the efforts of ordinary educators, when marshaled together, can help them do so."