Interim Dean Reflects on Period of Transition

Dear Friend,

Interregnums—periods of transition between leadership—have been a staple of governance throughout history. We inhabit one now on the national stage with the transition to a new administration in the White House on January 20.

While the American interregnum is extraordinary for its peaceful transfer of power, others throughout history have been marked by discord and upheaval. In his Prison Notebooks, political theorist Antonio Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old [order] is dying and the new cannot be born…”

The School of Education is once again living an interregnum, but contrary to Gramsci’s observation about the unraveling of the political forms of modernity, this period of transition has bequeathed a burst of impressive activity—a readiness on the part of our faculty and staff to think anew. The next dean will inherit a dynamic institution with an enhanced reputation that vigorously asserts its core mission of advancing knowledge and transforming lives.

It’s also a tacit acknowledgement that while deans and interim deans, like myself, are important in setting a vision and concentrating an organization’s efforts, it’s the energy, the passion and the resilience of its members that propel an organization inexorably forward. During our transition, we’ve continued to refine the practices and policies that constitute peerless research. There’s a renewed spirit of collaboration with our own centers and partners around educational best practices, faculty and staff development and community engagement.

One particular initiative that could prove to be a significant intervention in the academic performance of Baltimore City children is the Baltimore Reading and Eye Disease Study. The Center for Research Reform in Education is partnering with the Wilmer Eye Institute and others to provide eyeglasses to 300 students in 12 city schools. Preliminary results show an improvement in reading skills when students have access to glasses. It’s a deceptively simple solution to increasing student achievement in high-poverty schools, and I’m proud that the School of Education is playing an integral role.

Our researchers at the Center for Social Organization of Schools were involved in a major study revealing that one of the best moves high-poverty secondary schools can make is to identify early-warning indicators of failure and provide support at critical times in early middle school. An online quality improvement system created by the Center for Technology in Education, in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, has set a national standard for increasing the availability of exceptional child care and early childhood programs in Maryland.

Other examples of our faculty’s research initiatives include the work of Marc Stein, an expert on school choice, who is conducting studies with the Baltimore Education Research Consortium, a partnership between the School of Education, Morgan State University and Baltimore City Public Schools, examining the relationship between transportation and student attendance, chronic absenteeism and the use of improvement science in partnership with school faculty and administrators to address persistent instructional and organizational problems.

The School of Education also strives to be a central location for education dialogue. In October the faculty and Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy hosted the Coleman Report at 50 Conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Equality of Educational Opportunity Report, popularly known as the Coleman Report. Some of the nation’s most prominent researchers and policy makers, including John King, U.S. Secretary of Education, presented their views on the enduring significance of the report that shaped school desegregation policy for many years following its publication.

The Public Safety Leadership program hosted many of Maryland’s highest-ranking criminal investigators in a discussion about the use of police video from body cameras in criminal investigations, and a contingent of faculty and students in our counseling program played a significant role in the 5th National White House and Reach Higher Convening at American University that placed special emphasis on college and career readiness.

Our international presence is coming more and more to define the nature of our business and to influence educators worldwide. For example, 25 principals and teachers from across India visited the School of Education recently for a presentation on the Brain-Targeted Teaching model. Our academic programs also have wide reach, with more than 1,500 students from across the world enrolled in our online master’s and doctoral, as well as graduate certificate, programs.

Partnerships with school districts, state agencies, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, community agencies and other Johns Hopkins units are an important part of our work at the School of Education. We’re supporting arts integration in curriculum and training for teachers at the Margaret Brent School. A talented new leadership team at Henderson-Hopkins and the Weinberg Early Childhood Center are focusing on sound and innovative ways to assure that all students meet rigorous academic standards in a supportive, enriched environment.

In addition to our robust partnership with Teach for America, we’re collaborating with Urban Teachers to train new teachers for public schools using a clinical residency model similar to one used for preparing doctors. And we work closely with the Center for Talented Youth to identify and develop academic programs to assist teachers in developing the intellectual and artistic capacity of the most advanced K-12 learners worldwide.

As these examples show, we’re united here by a great cause—preparing educators, counselors and public safety leaders to become agents for a safe and just society—work that has animated our efforts for over a century and has been a hallmark of our enterprise for the past decade as a standalone school of education. We appreciate your confidence in us and would be grateful for a contribution toward our efforts. An investment in our research and instruction is a testament to the durability of ideas and the generational endowment of knowledge in a civilized society.

I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy new year.

Mariale Hardiman, EdD

Interim Dean, Johns Hopkins School of Education