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student outcomes don't change until adult behaviors change

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Outcome Goals, Education Policy, & Public Incentives

A working group of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance has been meeting with the goal of surfacing solutions for improving student outcomes. Their white paper and recommendations supply data and rationale for focusing in three areas: improving 3rd grade literacy, placing our most effective teacher teams with our students with the greatest needs, and improving career/college/military readiness.

Much of the data quoted is easily verifiable; the issues they describe are real challenges that demand real solutions. The solutions put forth, however, offer to upend education policy orthodoxy and to apply public incentives in ways that have only been deployed in limited use -- though, as described in their materials, often with stunning result.

Is broader adoption wise? Are these the best solutions? Do better ideas exist? Is the urgency described in the paper warranted? Is it worth it if these ideas risk upsetting systems that have been in place for years? None of these are easy questions. What say you?

Outcomes Working Group - White Paper
Outcomes Working Group - Recommendations Presentation

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              Student outcomes don't change until adult behaviors change.  
              Changing adult behaviors requires new mindsets, new knowledge, and/or new skills. My objective is to transform student outcomes through the transformation of adult mindsets, knowledge, and skills -- starting with my own.

              AJ Crabill currently serves as the Texas Education Agency's Deputy Commissioner for Governance. Prior to his work at TEA, Crabill served eight years on the board of the Kansas City (MO) Public Schools (KCPS). When he was initially elected to the board, Kansas City had the lowest accreditation status of any district in Missouri, was hemorrhaging funds, suffered regular scandals of public corruption and was in general disarray. Crabill led a broad suite of reforms that radically transformed the district. The district closed roughly 40 percent of its schools to deal with the mass exodus that had taken place in prior decades. The district also reduced the vendor list from 5,000 to 800 to stop payouts to those who were getting taxpayer funds -- often because of political connections -- but not delivering results for students. The district eliminated an $860,000 per year “rubber room” and began taking action to fire staff who were abusive to children. As a result of these efforts, grade level proficiency in literacy and numeracy doubled across the district, graduation rates climbed more than 15 percentage points, the number of audit findings reduced from 19 to 0, and KCPS regained full accreditation from the state of Missouri for the first time in nearly 30 years.

              Crabill has also served on the board of the Missouri School Boards Association, the executive committee of the Council of the Great City Schools, the Policy Committee for the National School Boards Association, a Visiting Fellow with Education Pioneers, currently serves as an instructor for the Texas Education Policy Institute, currently chairs the annual conference for the International Policy Governance Association, and has provided governance training to school districts nationwide to help refocus school board members on the core mission of improving student outcomes. Crabill has worked with and supported numerous universities, colleges, corporate boards, non profit boards, state leaders, municipal leaders, and local education leaders.

              In addition to his work in governance, Crabill has worked with municipalities, school districts, and schools across the country to implement restorative discipline / restorative practices, with a special emphasis on training students to implement peer-led mediations and restorative circles within their schools. Interwoven with the restorative practice work has been a strong focus on creating awareness of culturally responsive pedagogy and proficiency with its use, particularly in middle and high schools.

              Prior to his work in education, as an entrepreneur Crabill founded and/or participated in half a dozen tech startups across multiple industries and remains actively involved with startups in which he is currently invested. To give back to the community, Crabill has been a CASA volunteer, a Big with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, chair of Mazuma Credit Union's supervisory/audit committee, treasurer of the Missouri Democratic Party, board member for a LULAC National Education Service Center, board member of MorningStar Missionary Baptist's Development Corporation, vice president of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, and vice chair of the Black Archives of MidAmerica.

              Raised in and out of foster care from birth until high school, Crabill bounced around enough to have attended 11 schools prior to graduation. He attended urban, suburban and rural schools; private, public, and parochial schools; lived with white families and families of color; lived in racist communities and inclusive communities; experienced loving homes and homelessness. Guided by the idea that student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change and drawing on his intimate familiarity with the triumphs and terrors of America's safety nets for children, he has devoted much of his adult life to advocating for the well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. 

              Inspired by his parents, Crabill has mentored dozens of young men, has helped raise five young men, and will not be surprised when God sends another young man to his open door.

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