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Education Redesign Lab Launches By All Means

The new initiative aims to eliminate the link between children’s socioeconomic status and achievement.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) announced today the selection of six cities for a new multiyear initiative – By All Means: Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity – aimed at developing comprehensive child wellbeing and education systems that help eliminate the link between children’s socioeconomic status and achievement. By All Means will be operated by HGSE’s Education Redesign Lab. Participating cities in the initiative are Oakland, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Providence, Rhode Island; and Salem, Somerville, and Newton, Massachusetts.

“While our recent efforts at education reform have yielded some great successes in certain places, overall, we have failed to achieve equity, we have failed to eliminate persistent achievement and success gaps,” said Professor Paul Reville, founding director of the Education Redesign Lab and former Massachusetts Secretary of Education. “Schools alone, as currently conceived, can’t do the job of educating all children for success. We can do better. By All Means will help light the way.

“Education reformers across the country set out decades ago to eliminate the correlation between zip code and educational success,” Reville continued.  “We’ve failed at that so far. These courageous mayors and superintendents are now re-embracing the challenge and are willing to rethink their child wellbeing and education systems to achieve the goal of equity.”

“The By All Means project is a perfect example of the ways that Harvard University can advance our understanding of the mechanisms that perpetuate the lack of educational opportunity for too many children in poverty, and the ways in which we can begin to confront this inequality through thoughtful policy and collaborative action,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust.

The cities chosen to be part of the By All Means consortium demonstrate a distinguished record and a broad conception of their roles in ensuring children’s success. Working with the Education Redesign Lab, mayors of each city will create and lead “Children’s Cabinets” composed of superintendents, heads of health and social services, recreation, cultural and arts activists, and other key community leaders. Working together, these cabinet members will brainstorm and design new, effective strategies – aimed at closing persistent achievement and opportunity gaps — for meeting all children’s needs in their communities.

Throughout the course of this multiyear initiative, a series of high-profile national meetings will connect entrepreneurial and committed city mayors, superintendents, and public officials directly with the expertise of Harvard University faculty, design leaders, and influential policy, research and practice leaders in the movement to reconceptualize 21st-century education. The meetings will invigorate a national public dialogue about how to take the most promising school and community innovations to scale, and address potential challenges that arise.  

By All Means consortium cities will implement a variety of best practices for working across municipal agencies and community based organizations in order to deliver outcomes that are measurably better at serving all children and youth. The Education Redesign Lab will document and disseminate the most effective strategies so that these system-based approaches can be implemented widely.

“By All Means is a bold, ambitious design project that I believe will have a profound effect on the way we think about and provide education in the coming century,” said Dean James Ryan. “Addressing the persistent inequality in educational access and opportunity will take a comprehensive, strategic, and evidence-based approach, and I’m thrilled that Paul Reville is taking a leadership role in this work.”

Launched in 2015, HGSE’s Education Redesign Lab’s mission is to design an integrated, comprehensive set of systems for education and child development that will ensure all students, especially economically disadvantaged, have a fair chance of mastering the skills and knowledge necessary for success. To achieve this, the Education Redesign Lab engages in research, field work, convening, and advocacy, and a national design process to support the development of this vision.

Twitter: @EdRedesignLab

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