Donald J. Peurach, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Education, in a recent issue of EdWeek, challenges three widely held assumptions about how hubs drive effective reform.
Hubs are external organizations that, “…establish, manage, and sustain large networks of schools enacting common organizational designs, with particular focus on the interdependent practices of school leaders, teachers, and students. that manage clusters of schools.” Examples are Success for All and America’s Choice.
“…proponents often argue that these hub-centered networks can function as conduits for moving research to practice. However, our findings suggest that rather than existing in advance of scaling up the network, detailed knowledge of effective, schoolwide practices emerges through the work of scaling up the network, via collaborative, experiential learning among hub organizations and schools.
Further, critics often argue that hub-centered networks function as bureaucratic, top-down initiatives that usurp local control and professional autonomy. However, our findings indicate that their success depends heavily on underperforming schools’ engaging as active partners, with school-based experimentation and adaptation functioning as key resources for collaborative, experiential learning.
Finally, proponents often assume that these hub-centered networks can effect rapid improvement in large numbers of schools, and critics are quick to point out when they don’t. However, our findings suggest that it can take decades for hub organizations to emerge and mature, and that it can take five years or more for schools to develop the capabilities to participate as full members of a network.”
The real question is how to speed things up? We don’t have decades. At School Loop, we have an idea that to change the culture, change the code. We think that if you model practices and processes into community and collaborative software, they just become how things work, and the way we work. When this happen, the model is far less dependent on people as as the keepers of values and culture. so when people leave the model remains, with the collaborative infrastructure intact.
This idea is analogous to team systems in pro football that make teams far less dependent on an individual superstar, but rather it is the working of the system that creates sustained success.
We have no evidence ourselves that this would speed up the emergence of a powerful, successful hubs, but it’s what we think.
What do you think?