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Antioch and KSC Launch School Reform Center

KEENE, N.H. 10/24/01 - Antioch New England Graduate School and Keene State College have joined forces to help New Hampshire and Vermont schools reform their practices in line with a student-centered approach to education.

This is the first such large-scale partnership creating a distinct organization to be co-sponsored and co-directed by both Antioch New England and Keene State.

Known for its commitment to student-centered and activity-based learning, Antioch New England works in partnerships with schools and communities throughout New England and provides masters degree programs and development opportunities for education professionals. Keene State delivers nationally accredited education programs from teacher preparation to school counseling and principal training, focusing on teaching best practices and emphasizing education in inclusive settings.

Both institutions have combined their resources to create the Coalition Center for Essential School Reform, a regional center of the National Coalition of Essential Schools (CES). This regional Center will be launched on Monday, Oct. 29, 4-6 p.m., in the Alumni Recital Hall of the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State. The event is free and open to the public.

The launch will open with videotaped introductions from CES founder Ted Sizer and former CES national director Deborah Meier, says Thomas McGuire, education faculty member at KSC and co-director of the new Coalition Center. Education luminary Dennis Littky will then address the need for CES-style school reform. Littky, a former principal of Thayer High School in Winchester, N.H., was one of the first school administrators in the country to reform his school following the CES common principles. Littky is now the co-principal of the progressive Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical School in Providence, R.I. He will speak about a tenet central to the CES philosophy why and how schools and communities should collaborate in local education decision making. Coalition Center directors will be available to answer questions at the event.

The Coalition Center serving New Hampshire and Vermont becomes the 20th such organization in the country to grow from the work of CES, based in Oakland, Calif. CES is a network of over 1,000 schools and regional centers that seek to promote student achievement and to develop more nurturing and humane school communities.

According to Judy Coven, education faculty at Antioch New England and co- director of the Center, the Coalition Center will use the CESs 10 Common Principles to inspire a school community to examine its priorities in the following four areas: school design, classroom practice, leadership, and community connections. Instead of serving as a blueprint for change, said Coven, the principles challenge a school community to examine its priorities and to redesign curriculum, instruction, assessment, and organizational structures in ways that align with them.

Since informal word came out about the formation of the Coalition Center last June, McGuire says, “there has been a steady flow of requests by schools in the area looking into membership of the Center. Among schools indicating interest are Nashua High School; Winnacunett High School, Hampton, N.H.; Lincoln Elementary School, Lincoln, Vt.; Greenfield Center School, Greenfield, Mass.; and Bow High School, which is already a member of the national CES. The Center has also appointed an advisory board of educators and administrators from around the region.

To become a member of the regional Coalition Center, Coven says, a school must agree to use the 10 Common Principles to guide its practice. After a school completes a self-assessment, Coalition Center consultants will evaluate the school using the principles performance benchmarks. The school and the Coalition Center will then agree on what the school’s reform goals should be and how the goals should be met. One year later, the Center will review the school’s progress and match performance with goals.

Additionally, explains McGuire, he and Coven want to encourage communities to be involved in reforming their schools. This type of education reform works best when communities are involved in designing the standards that they want for their children, he explains. It gives people a voice and a role in the decisions that are made about their children’s education.

For more information, contact Tom McGuire at 603-358-2304 or Judy Coven at 603-357-3122, ext. 315. For more information about the CES, visit

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