As regular readers of this blog know, Montgomery County Public Schools has done a good job capturing our attention with its PreK-3rd alignment effort and high-quality early childhood programs. Now a new book, Leading for Equity, argues that Superintendent Jerry Weast's approach to management, which emphasized equity and excellence for all, was the key to success in MCPS.
This substantive but somewhat colorless book was written by three people who specialize in education leadership: Stacey M. Childress and David A. Thomas, who currently teach at Harvard Business School, and Denis P. Doyle, the chief academic officer of SchoolNet, which produces instructional management software.
Jay Mathews at the Washington Post recently skewered the authors for relying too much on education jargon in their analysis of MCPS' success, which they summarized as six lessons. Early Ed Watch helpfully translates for the common man: 1) adopt common, rigorous standards, and differentiate instruction rather than lowering expectations by placing struggling students in lower tracks, 2) focus on critical stages of the K-12 path, especially early childhood and the last years of high school, 3) hold everyone accountable and include everyone in the decision-making process, 4) persuade people of all students' ability to excel by requiring the use of programs that increase student achievement, 5) hire and retain people who believe that minority and low-income students can achieve at a high level and 6) always pursue equity and hold it as a top priority.