Today in Norman, the SDE will hold its fourth (or fifth – I lose count) REAC3H Summit. The morning will open at 8 a.m. with a keynote address from well-respected college professor Timothy Shanahan:
Professor Shanahan is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is Director of the UIC Center for Literacy and chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Professor Shanahan will speak on the challenges of the Common Core State Standards. This presentation will explore the implications of shifts in educational practice, particularly in regard to English language arts curriculum and instruction, in addition to more challenging text, close reading, disciplinary literacy, informational text, and writing about reading in literature, math, social studies, and science.
Hopefully, Dr. Shanahan can shed some light on the challenges schools face in the implementation of CCSS. Teachers want their students to be successful. Principals want their teachers to be successful. This requires the availability of high-quality, sustained professional development. As good of a professor, writer, and lecturer Shanahan might be, a two hour overview this morning for a select group of educators (REAC3H coordinating districts were each given six slots, while other slots were made available by invitation from some of the SDE curriculum staff) will hardly move the needle.
The loss of message fidelity from expert, to attendee, to the next group Shanahan’s audience talks to will be huge. If 400 people hear him today (and I have no idea what the registration number is), how many will go back to their own districts – much less their REAC3H network districts – and successfully convey Shanahan’s message?
This is not a knock on guest speakers. This is a criticism of the CCSS implementation plan for the state which includes:
- Bi-annual summits such as this;
- A summer conference lacking coherent instructional strands;
- Regional workshops by SDE curriculum staff;
- 60 REAC3H coaches distributed around the state; and
- No professional development funds for schools.
As Dr. Shanahan speaks this morning, I wonder if he’ll outline a plan that resembles something vastly different than that.