Children First Network 102
Alison Sheehan, Network Leader
What We Stand For:
Access for All
Each individual has a right to education. Our society has a responsibility to provide more educational opportunities to everyone so that all may fulfill their educational needs. This must be done since our nation can only progress if active, well educated citizens participate in our democracy.
Continuous Learning for Children and Adults
Our children should experience an education that is enriched for each student. It should nurture curiosity, thoughtfulness, and the motivation to take action. The curriculum should not be or feel limited. It should reach into all aspects of humanity by exploring oneself and by exploring the world.
The adults who work with our children should share in learning’s joy and wonder as well in its usefulness. They should develop their expertise and skills as cooperating professionals. They should challenge and help one another within their schools and across the educational landscape.
Community and Inclusiveness
Education works best in thoughtful, creative and dynamic communities. These are communities where everyone’s voice – student, teacher and parent alike – is heard and respected. These are communities where important choices and decisions are made together.
We need communities where everyone also takes responsibility for their own learning and for their own decisions in support of one another. The school community needs to involve parents and the larger community as active partners. The school community has a responsibility to work to better itself and the larger community.
Assessment for Genuine Accountability and Improvement
Learning is complex and happens in different ways for different people. Therefore, the ways you discover and confirm what students can know and do also need to be complex and individual. Different kinds of tests and assessments should be used. They should be directly related to what students are learning, and happen regularly and naturally between teachers and students. The emphasis should be on assessments that making the thinking of each student visible. Whenever possible, they should be performance-based and not limited to paper and pencil tests.
Assessments should reward good thinking habits, work habits and organizational skills. To allow more time for instruction, the number of required tests should be limited. Tests that are used to determine promotion and graduation should be part of an assessment system that uses several other ways to discover and measure what students know and can do.
A “Bottom-Up” Structure that Provides Schools the Resources to Accomplish Their Missions
Schools and their leaders require resources and the authority to make decisions that make the most sense for their communities. Resources need to be distributed adequately and fairly, and how decisions are made by central administrators about policies and budgets should be clear. Central administrators should use and honor ways to get input from school-based personnel and parents before making decisions. Both school leaders and school system leaders need to limit the use of solutions usually found in the business world and tend to deal with things. They should dedicate themselves to finding solutions using democratic values and methods that work best with children.
By using democratic values and methods, we will create a system of schools that demonstrates both excellence and equity.