Author Archives: Tanya Paperny

About Tanya Paperny

Tanya Paperny is Bellwether's managing editor. More at

Best of Bellwether 2019: Our Most-Read Publications and Posts

2019 was a busy year at Bellwether and across education in general, and we’re excited to round up our most-read blog posts and publications from the past 12 months. They cover a number of topics, including how school leaders can improve school culture (and reclaim their own time), how to improve the quality of early childhood education, and how to better bridge research and practice. This list also reflects your wide-ranging interests in the myriad issues that Bellwether experts work on across policy and practice. 

For the top posts on our sister site, click here.

We’re excited to bring you more insights in the new decade! To hear updates, you can sign up here to get our newsletter. Thanks for following our work.

Top Ten Blog Posts from Ahead of the Heard in 2019

1.) 3 Things Head Start Programs Can Do Right Now to Improve Their Practice

by Ashley LiBetti Continue reading

Bellwether’s Edu-Decade Reflections

The 2010s are almost over (*gasp*), and everyone’s talking about what we can learn from the eclipsing decade. I asked my colleagues for some reflections on the good, the bad, and the in between from ten years of education progress, and I highlighted additional readings where you can get more information on their ideas:

Via Flickr user haru__q

What have you learned about education in the last decade?

Cara Jackson: Democracy is hard. I might have once thought that if integrating schools could be done anywhere, it could be done in a Maryland school district with well-educated, liberal parents. I’m very disappointed in the tone of the debate in Montgomery County Public Schools community meetings on the school boundary analysis, and I’ve found that people who I thought shared my commitment to equity are more worried about their property values. [insert dumpster fire gif]

Related resource: This local article about the community meetings uses the headline ‘This is Just People Screaming’

Yoshira Cardenas Licea: As a teacher, I learned that developing strong teachers requires incredible support from different angles (e.g., internal drive, teacher preparatory programs, veteran teachers, accessible resources, and internal and external professional development). I was surprised by how much work it took — in time and effort — to see results. I was disappointed by how little support I received from my district and principal when compared to surrounding districts and fellow teachers. I was encouraged by the hard-working people around me who were willing to dedicate the time and effort necessary to make a difference in students’ lives.

Related resource: Our 2018 blog series on teaching, school leadership, and the education talent pipeline Continue reading

7 Alternate Questions for Public Education Forum 2020

Saturday at 9 a.m. EST, eight presidential candidates are expected to participate in “Public Education Forum 2020,” a debate sponsored by teachers unions, civil rights groups, and other organizations.

According to NBC News, topics will include: “early childhood education, school investment, student debt and disparities in public education, among other issues.”

Given the forum’s sponsors, who tend towards anti-charter and anti-choice perspectives, it’s unlikely that the conversation will reflect a wide spread of education reform views.

So I polled some members of our team for questions they hope will be asked — even if they suspect it’s unlikely. Here are seven: Continue reading

Media: “Culture-Based Education Looks Like This Wellness Program for Native Youth” in EdPost

In June, I had the privilege of attending a Native American wellness camp focused on encouraging middle-school youth towards academic success and healthy choices. The camp inspired me to reflect on the role of guest speakers in my own life — and challenged me to understand why culture-based education is particularly important for the resilience of Native youth.

Read my op-ed in Education Post, tied to November’s Native American Heritage Month. Here’s an excerpt:

Native communities are flush with role models, elders and spiritual leaders, so schools just need to make sure these individuals are integrated into learning and extracurricular opportunities. As college-aged camp aide Avery Underwood, member of the Comanche tribe who grew up in non-Native urban communities, told me: “How different my school experience could have been with an Indian community backing me.”

Other Bellwether writing on Native education issues can be found here.

Media: “To reform education, Kentucky must focus on rural, impoverished schools” in the Louisville Courier Journal

We have an op-ed in today’s print and online editions of the Louisville Courier Journal about overlooked rural communities in Kentucky:

One-third of Kentucky’s student population, or almost 200,000 students, live in rural areas. In fact, half of Kentucky’s counties are rural, but you wouldn’t know this from the conversations about education in the media, among funders or between state policymakers.

Despite the concentration of rural students in Kentucky, education reform efforts continue to focus almost exclusively on two of the largest school districts in the state: Jefferson and Fayette counties. On top of that, the state’s existing reforms strategies don’t always reach rural communities or address their primary concerns.

Read our full op-ed here, and check out Bellwether’s new resource, “Education in the American South,” for more context.