Editorial: Innovation zone brings right kind of attention
The Farmington School District's selection as an innovation zone is exciting.
It's hard to say too much about the designation at this point, because nobody seems sure exactly what it means. In theory, it will lead to a loosening of some regulations if it appears the rules will hold the district back. But it's not clear yet just how flexible the Minnesota Department of Education is willing to be. Are we talking a nudge here and a tweak there, or full-on, throw-out-the-rule-book freedom?
If we were to guess, the reality will probably be closer to the former than the latter. But that is still a pretty good start. Farmington superintendent Jay Haugen has never shied away from trying new things to help students learn, and this designation should clear a path for the vision put in place in the district's strategic plan. It will free teachers and administrators to try new things and react to new information.
It might not all work, but you can't make changes if you're not willing to experiment a little bit. Haugen is a former science teacher. He should know all about experiments.
The innovation zone designation will mean an intensifying of the attention Farmington has already been getting since it completed its plan to put an iPad in every student's hands. Other districts will want to know what Farmington is doing. More important, they will want to know how it is working.
That's a lot of pressure, but it's good pressure.
School board chair Tera Lee might have said it best. Lee grew up in Farmington. She attended Farmington schools and graduated from Farmington High School. In those days, nobody looked to Farmington as a model of how to teach students. Now, they will. And that is good news for Farmington.