Ed100 Explains Complexities of California Education System

There is a new free online course to teach education policy to parents who have children in California public schools, writes John Festerwald for EdSource.

Ed100.org is a short course of the basics that can teach non-educators, and anyone else who wants to know, how to decipher the complex education policies surrounding schools in the state. Created by Jeff Camp, a former Microsoft manager, the course is a 10-chapter walk through California's numerous school issues.

Camp opened the website in an attempt to have parents who can understand what is going on with California schools and then, ideally,become leaders in the efforts to reform what needs to be reformed for the best of all children. Camp was on former Governor Arnold Schwarzengger's Committee on Education Excellence and chairs the Education Circle of the Full Circle Fund, which encourages its members to take on a project which will improve schools in the Bay Area.

"Education standards, accountability and school finance systems are changing quickly," he said. "The notion that accountability is in the hands of parents is a big switch. If communities are to succeed in the new role of holding the system accountable, parent leaders need to know some of the basics. Ed100 introduces these topics in a way that parents can engage on the basis of knowledge."

The course covers:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Finances and resources
  • Governance
  • Measurements of success
An example of one sub-chapter is on poverty and race. In 600 words, it summarizes studies that have found correlations between poverty, race, and academic skills. It includes visuals and graphics that point out international academic comparisons, a graph of the relationship between poverty and academic skills, and links to various research in these areas.
Readers' comments are encouraged, as well. The hope is that parents will join together in groups and study the course in the company of other parent-seekers. Ed100 also will become a part of the course reading for Stanford's "Changing Education" course, and a Spanish version of the course will be released along with video tutorials.

There is an "About" page to the course within the website explaining how to use Ed100, who created it, how to donate to it, and how you can add your endorsement. The site also includes a blog along with encouraging examples of how parents can work together to make schools better. Even more information is available on the website www.fullcirclefund.org/project/ed100/

Interested parties can also visit the course's Facebook page, subtitled "California's Education System 100% Demystified". On it is this rhetorical question:

You want to help make education work better. But where to begin? California's education system is vast, complex, and fraught with humans. As a parent, teacher, leader, or concerned citizen, how do your efforts fit in? What makes a difference?

There is also a description of the course's purpose, which is to prepare the course-taker to take an active role in making education better for students. Those in charge call this course a primer that will introduce the major issues and ideas wrapped up in educational reform. This course will explain ideas and actions from all sides of the discussion. Then it will connect the learner to organizations, resources, and other people that can take him or her deeper into the business of improving every student's educational outcome.

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