Elementary School Networks(NESN) began in the spring of 1993 when educators and parents from 18 states gathered in New York to consider how Essential School principles relate to elementary schools. Another key goal: to form local and regional school-based “networks” through which to collaborate in reform efforts. With support from the DeWitt Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, in 1994 the project helped launch six of these school-based centers across the country and others are forming fast.
What do the elementary school networks do?
both locally and in a national networking institute, they bring together groups of like-minded school people(teachers parents and administrators to collaborate on key reform issues.
They communicate electronically via Elementary Online which uses the Internet to conduct a conversation with parents and educators anywhere in the country
they use the same “logs” as tools for self assessment and reflection
they build school-based centers for change, staffed and managed by the people most directly affected by reforms.
As an emerging theme for the school-based centers, NESN has proposed that each concentrate on developing four “underlying cultures” the cultures of debate, of vulnerability, of differences, and of collaboration. A rich conversation about how Essential School principles play out differently in different contexts has already begun to evolve, including the slight revision of the Nine Common Principles to reflect elementary school perspectives.
School based elementary school networks funded by NESN now exist in Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico, Milwaukee, Colorado, and Ohio; and other such clusters are taking root in Westchester County, New York; Los Angeles; southeast New England, and Broward County, Florida. School communities engaged with Essential School principles in the early grade levels may contact NESN at 212-348-7821 212-348-7821 for more information.