Rethinking Access – Forbes
PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 10: School buses drive down teh road to pick up children before classes … [+]
Here is a little experiment. Go to any kind of educational convening; a conference, a professional development seminar, a research presentation, whatever, and say that you believe we should “increase access” in our education system. Then ask whomever you are taking to, “When you heard me say ‘increase access’ who did you think I was talking about? That is, who would be getting access to something new?”
I would be willing to wager that the vast majority of times when we hear the phrase “increase access” in education, we think about students. Increasing student access to good teachers. Increasing student access to high quality instructional materials. Increasing student access to better schools. Sometimes we might think about teachers, as in increasing teacher access to technology or better preparation. But it is almost always one of those two groups.
To be fair, that is how I would have answered until I recently heard Beth Seling of the Vela Education Fund reframe the question when she was sitting on a panel at the International School Choice and Reform Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
She offered a new group of people that we should think about when we use the term “access” in education: entrepreneurs.
Students will only have access to new and better schools if entrepreneurial educators have the opportunity to start them. Teachers will only have access to better instructional materials if those who create those resources have the opportunity to get their products in front of whomever purchases them for schools, districts, or charter school networks. If we care about the first kind of access, we really need to care about the second.
We have become accustomed to thinking about the barriers that students and teachers face when trying to access better educational opportunities. Students are stuck zoned to low quality district schools so implementing policies that allow them to choose somewhere else increases access. …….