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A balancing act between improving some schools or all of them

Is the current mania around trying to turn around struggling schools and open high-quality new ones the best way to improve school systems? Marc Waxman isn’t sure.

In his latest missive in the “Deepening the Dialogue” exchange in the GothamSchools Community Section, Waxman argues that current policies give rise to an unsettling tension between what’s good for individual schools and what’s good for schools in general. He writes:

I believe our current dialogue about education is narrow in many ways. One way it is narrow is its focus on individual school improvement at the expense of, or with no thought of, systemic improvement.

For example, Waxman writes, limiting when and how many students enroll might enable an individual school to work effectively, but that kind of autonomy would have potentially damaging implications for other schools. He points out that the tension between specific and systemic success is present at many charter schools, like the one he’s planning to open, but is even more acute at many specialized schools, such as schools that serve only gifted students.

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