top-img-01 logo top-img-02 top-logo top-img-03

Understanding the Ironies of a New Divide
Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul's School, by Shamus Rahman Khan

Returning to his alma mater, St. Paul's School, the boarding school in New Hampshire, Columbia University Professor of Sociology Shamus Khan embarked on a yearlong study of adolescent "elites" in his Alma Mater. He portrays a new kind of inequality that is less based on race or inherited privilege than the past, but this time is the product of a meritocratic and more openly democratic institution that St Paul's - and by extension all elite schools - has tried to engineer. As it has in society at large, a new kind of socioeconomic inequality has arisen. Exploring how hierarchies naturally form, the power of acquired (rather than inherited) experience and the ease and openness students possess who acquire these experiences, Khan shows how access and social relationships combined with mobility appear to be the drivers for the new elite. There is, in other words, a bittersweet irony to the success of some of our diversity efforts. The challenge for independent school leaders is to recognize that class inequality remains a profound problem, though this inequality has a different form and face. Strengthening financial aid pools to allow even greater socioeconomic diversity is one response. The independent school may not be able to change prevailing socioeconomic inequality, but at least it can alter the ways it educates for positive awareness about this reality.

John M. Rocklin, St. Paul's School, NH
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  Princeton University Press, February 2011  
  December, 2010 VOL 17



Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Essex, MA

Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA

Assistant Head, Upper School
Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For more information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
CallforChange   No Immunity
A Call for Change, by the Council of the Great City Schools

"The nation's young black males are in a state of crisis," begins A Call for Change, the jarring new report on achievement in our nation's schools by the Council of the Great City Schools. Unfortunately, the black-white achievement gap is old news. However, this report by the Council, representing 65 of America's largest urban school districts, does a first-ever analysis of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). By examining reading and math scores, dropout and graduation rates, post-secondary school attendance patterns, and, finally, post-secondary working and living conditions, issues emerge that the Council describes as "both moral and economic." The large amounts of data in the report show such inequities that there can be no immunity from these stark concerns anywhere, including the independent school world, where attention to these achievement gaps must be paid as well. The data alone tell a stark story which continue to call into question our aspirations as a just nation.

Bruce Shaw (Trustee)
Glen Urquhart School, MA
  The Council of the Great City Schools, October 2010  
CornerOffice   Making the Most of the Corner Office
Conversations about Leadership and Management, by Adam Bryant
(only part of this article is available without purchase)

Lately, turning eagerly to the Education Life Section of the Times to read about new developments and debates in the field of education can convert eagerness to a dispiriting experience, a reminder of cyclical finger pointing without any real solutions and certainly no heroes. So if you want new weekly inspiration about Leadership, consider looking for it in an unlikely place: the Sunday Business page of the Times, where Corner Office, a feature by Adam Bryant, appears each week. The leaders interviewed share their perspective and advice for motivating others, working in groups, achieving results and setting new goals. The business leaders are thoughtful and reflective -- often connecting their current practice with lessons learned the hard way. The Corner Office column is especially useful for disclosing interviewing practices and insights on successful hiring.The insight into differing styles can be refreshing and stirring, a possible catalyst for insight into your own work as teachers and leaders in the school world.

Kathryn Kaiser, The School at Columbia, NY
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  New York Times Sunday Business, November 14, 2010  
BuildingAGradNation   Hopeful Trend--at a Snail's Pace
Building a Grad Nation, by America's Promise Alliance

Just three-quarters of American students graduate from high school, with those numbers often skewed according to ethnicity. We have all heard the mantra repeated that in today's world, characterized by rapid transformation, globalization, and the need for adaptability in the workplace, too few students leave school prepared to succeed. A newer take on this issue arrives in "Building a Grad Nation," a report from Colin (as in former Secretary of State) and Alma Powell's organization, America's Promise Alliance, in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University and several other sponsors. The open letter that prefaces the Report is on one hand optimistic, citing higher graduation rates and fewer drop -out factories, but on the other admonishes the slow pace of this progress. Drawing from a large statistical base about schooling in America, The Report tries to isolate the coefficients for higher success rates: the need for highly trained teachers, use of accurate data, higher expectations and standards, and more integrated parent and community engagement. The question of what successes can be "scaled up" points to the Independent school connection, since we boast graduation rates of nearly 100%; like the good Charter Schools, do we have an obligation to lead by sharing examples of great education? - Precisely the kind of "community engagement" the report calls for.

Bruce Shaw (Trustee)
Glen Urquhart School, MA
  America's Promise Alliance  
FightingBullying   Engineering Kindness
Fighting Bullying with Babies, by David Bornstein

David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (Oxford University Press), is now pondering whether there is a cure for meanness. In his New York Times article, Fighting Bullying with Babies, Bornstein examines the research on a unique social innovation curriculum in schools that is offering an unexpected answer. Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression among schoolchildren by raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. A baby in a parent's arms comes to the classroom once a month throughout a school year and the students gather around to watch, ask questions, comfort, sing and make a tiny human being comfortable. Around babies, tough kids smile, disruptive kids focus, and shy kids open up. The baby, lying on a green blanket, invites a simple caring and a complex perspective taking combination that is effecting change in behavior and seeing outcomes maintained three years after the program ends. That change is more kindness and less bullying. All in a day's work for the youngest of teachers.

Elizabeth Morley, Institute of Child Study, Toronto, Canada
  The New York Times, November 8, 2010  
EvaluationThatHelpTeachers   More Help from An Expert on Teacher Evaluation
Evaluations that Help Teachers Learn, by Charlotte Danielson

Just as Public Schools are struggling with the issue of teacher evaluation, so are Independent Schools, a topic dominating the national debate about effective teaching. The traditional teacher evaluation system includes checklists of criteria and non-evaluative descriptors (such as "needs improvement") in a model that does not differentiate for a teacher's experience or expertise and lacks consistency among evaluators; in Independent Schools, these more objective models are sometimes replaced by equally ineffective, vague narratives. In this article, Danielson provides a starting point and a rationale for revising this process. She argues that if we want the evaluation outcome to be meaningful, we need a process that is not only rigorous and reliable, but also engages teachers being evaluated in their own professional development. Based on her research, she reminds us of these truths while arguing that we ought to provide the evaluators themselves with the time and training to effectively promote teacher growth and development. Some might argue that this latter point in particular is often overlooked in the Independent School world.

Paul Errickson, Nichols School, NY
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

  NYEducational Leadership, December 2010/January 2011: 35-39.  
Deviants   How Hidden and Overlooked Innovation Informs Change
The Power of Positive Deviants, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow

This elegant article about change from the inside documents discoveries about approaches to infant mortality, nutrition and other issues of health in countries located in Africa and Asia. In a different kind of story about outliers, the fascinating discovery here is how unacknowledged members of a community often discover, in secret, solutions to problems that defy conventional norms and thus hide or even take for granted their findings without sharing them. And yet in the idiosyncratic, inside-out experiment lies the cure to some malady that may be common sense. In Vietnam, for instance, crabs kept and bred inside a hut kept children from malnutrition even though it was considered low class to keep crabs indoors. The applicability to schools - that the unassuming, overlooked teacher may hold the key to a reform that no top down action will foster, and that the slow accretion of knowledge holds more power than the sudden intervention - is intriguing and worth remembering.

Peter Herzberg, The Brearley School, NY
  Boston Globe, October, 2009  
GoodKids   A Compass for Navigating Ethical Dilemmas
Good Kids, Tough Choices: How Parents Can Help Their Children Do the Right Thing, by Dr. Rushworth M. Kidder

First chapter available for review here

Good Kids, Tough Choices follows Dr. Kidder's well-established "ethical literacy" development model with a particular focus on modern parenting. The book provides dozens of actual ethical quandaries culled from the Institute's workshops, and deconstructs them using the dilemma paradigms that Dr. Kidder and his team have developed over 30 years of studying ethical decision-making. Kidder examines the stages of ethical development from birth to young adulthood, laying them out on a continuum from "knowing what's right" to "making tough choices" to "standing for conscience." While educators may be more drawn to his earlier works or workshops from his organization, The Institute for Global Ethics, Good Kids, Tough Choices provides a valuable lens for parents and teachers alike, and may provide a point of common connection for those hoping to develop an ethical literacy strand in their schools.

Chris Lauricella, The Park School, NY
  Institute for Global Ethics  
  Valuable Advice from Edutopia
Education Nation: Six Learning Edges of Innovation in our Schools , by Milton Chen Foreward by George Lucas

An Education Nation would make learning a priority, not just in schools and not just for young people. It would utilize the power of technology to embrace innovative learning during the day, into the evenings and summers, and throughout the lifespan. Author Milton Chen, senior fellow and executive director emeritus of Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, shares what he has learned about the power of education innovation to transform schools. Chen uses anecdotes and research to tell the story of innovative teaching and learning that has been highlighted on Edutopia's website. He describes practices that include authentic assessment, project- based learning, technology integration, professional development and the kind of teaching that includes experts and parents as co-educators. Of particular value is an extensive bibliography of books, articles, websites and media sources. While some of these innovative practices are in place in many independent schools, they often remain too much at the edges of our work. Chen makes a compelling case to move them to the center.

Pearl Rock Kane, The Klingenstein Center, Teacher's College, Columbia University, NY
  Jossey-Bass, 2010  
  Thinking about Systems and Sustainability
The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, by Peter Senge et al

Peter Senge's The Necessary Revolution explores how companies, organizations, and individuals are mobilizing to ensure a sustainable future in an effort to combat a mounting series of tragic environmental and social crises. Senge, author of several bestsellers including The Fifth Discipline and Schools that Learn, artfully illustrates the interconnectedness of current global challenges and argues that transformation requires a fundamental change in thinking about systems. In an era in which the public refers to business models to improve schools, Senge admonishes his readers to abandon old, ineffective models rather than tinkering with them, and promote redesign based upon re-modeled systems. While the book primarily focuses on corporate and NGO partnerships and direct references to the school world are few, Senge's paradigm can remind educators to avoid hastily-implemented and quickly-abandoned fads to patch problems and effect superficial change. Published almost three years ago now, the book still offers a compelling "toolbox" of methods and strategies to "build the confidence and competence to respond effectively."

Jeremy Birk, The United Nations International School, NY
  Doubleday, 2008  

To submit comments or suggestions, or to request that the newsletter be sent to a colleague,
contact Adele Tonge, Communications Manager at

To support Klingenstein Center scholarships and program endowment, please make your gift here.


The Klingenstein Center
for Independent School Leadership
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 125
525 West 120th Street
New York, New York 10027

image  image