Driving in Los Angeles

Driving in Los Angeles is an unique experience. It can be daunting, stressful, confusing, exhausting, and sometimes downright harrowing! The roads and freeways are a relic of the L.A. of yesterday when there were fewer people, fewer cars, and lower speeds. As the city grew and sprawled, freeways were added that interconnect and crisscross…some to the left, some to the right, often with short on ramps and sometimes an immediate need to change lanes. The surface streets aren’t much better. Many are narrow with lanes unexpectedly ending or suddenly cars parking in what used to be your driving lane. There is evidence of attempts to update the roadways and to improve the driving experience, but most work is mostly cosmetic…keeping what already exists functional, while attempting to make the improvements when possible to the roads and freeways in use.

Sometimes our educational systems feels like driving in Los Angeles. Many of the structures in place are relics of days gone by. Schedules and groupings are mostly as they have always been. But we have more students, diverse learners, more access to information, and as a result of all of that, changing expectations for outcomes for student learning. With the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) there is a move to go in and remake some of those roads (to carry out the L. A. driving metaphor), the improve access to and delivery of robust learning experiences for students. But in many cases, instead of reconsidering the educational system…including testing, funding, organizing, professional development…teachers are being asked to fill in the potholes. They are taking old practices and adding a new activity or two to meet the new standards.

And I understand why this is happening…both with L.A. roads and our educational system. Change is hard and often painful. We would have to make sacrifices to tear down what isn’t really working and build new structures to meet emerging needs and those in the foreseeable future. Wow, I tackled a complex topic late on a Wednesday. There’s so much more to think about here…

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