Indiana University Research & Creative Activity

A Child's Life

Volume 25 Number 2
Spring 2003

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A Home for Reform

by Laura Lane

A few years ago, the National School Reform Faculty lost its funding and was looking for a home. Now it has found permanent shelter at the Harmony School Education Center in Bloomington, Ind.

The NSRF, created in 1995 by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, focuses on empowering educators and others involved with schools to create and support powerful learning experiences for everyone. The key to the group is collaboration and sharing information. The NSRF helps schools establish peer learning communities in which educators examine their profession—including interpersonal relationships, school environment, curricula, and teaching practices—to determine ways to best meet the social and educational needs of students.

These communities, called Critical Friends Groups, meet regularly to discuss their goals, values, and practices. The NSRF trains "coaches" from within the schools to challenge and support the groups as they negotiate how to bring about reform from within. Seminars and conferences are held throughout the year to assist NSRF members.

As co-director of the Harmony School Education Center, Indiana University education professor Jesse Goodman is working with the NSRF to bring it into a more public arena, enabling the development of democracy in education throughout other schools. The NSRF and Goodman are currently working on several projects, including an effort to revitalize the civic purpose of education, a peer collaboration project involving four schools from Seattle to Pennsylvania, and the convening of a Progressive Education Summit to challenge conservative teaching ideas that the group finds dominating public discussion on schooling in America. —L.L.

Laura Lane is a writer for the Sunday Hoosier Times in Bloomington, Ind.