Honor Code

Our friend Deborah Kenny is the latest to announce she'll open a new Ed School -- at Harlem Village Academies.  More of these are on the way.  We know this because we sometimes get approached while a group is in planning/stealth mode, to better understand our own story. 

One important issue that all new Ed Schools will face is -- what will you bend on to get approved by regulators, and what is non-negotiable. 

When we started our own Ed School, we needed the MA Board of Higher Ed to approve us.  And to do that, they pushed us on a couple of unconventional thing.  One thing which important to us -- that many of our courses are taught by very successful K-12 schoolteachers and leaders, people in the trenches and skilled with actual children, not necessarily all Phd's -- made sense for an institution that....was preparing schoolteachers.  That was a toughie.  The BHE considered that one at length before approving us.

Here is an interesting story via our friend Dai Ellis about a new university in Ghana.  The article comes from Forbes Magazine. 

Our students implemented an honor system, which is the first in Africa, where they promise not only to individually hold themselves to high standards of integrity, but to hold each other corporately responsible as well. Students commit to not cheat on exams, and they also vow to not tolerate those that do. As a result of this strong honor system, we no longer proctor exams. This is a dramatic shift from the status quo in education in Ghana, where students will cheat at any opportunity they get, and they certainly don’t hold each other accountable. At Ashesi, students have years of practice learning to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. They develop the confidence to speak up when they see something wrong. When our students started the honor system, the Accreditation Board here was very skeptical. In fact, they asked us to discontinue it. In particular, they didn’t like the part of the honor system that allowed students to self-proctor their exams.

This was startling to us, we were quite dismayed by it. But, the response of the Ashesi community to that directive was incredibly inspiring. The students voted unanimously to risk the loss of accreditation, to keep our honor system. The faculty, the administration, the board, also voted unanimously to keep it. We then had a meeting with parents, and the parents also wanted us to keep it. That moment in Ashesi’s history, is the stuff of legend. In addition to having the first honor system in Africa, this is probably the only honor system in the world that has had to fight against an accrediting body to maintain it.

Read the whole thing.

As for our own Ed School, the Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education, the first graduation is December 7.