As everyone learned last month, if a guy jumps the fence and storms the White House, there are agents assigned to patrol the North Lawn, a sharpshooter backing them up, an attack dog intended to serve as a failsafe, another person at the door, and so forth. Instead of letting agents simply roam around, they put together protocols and procedures to minimize human judgment. Secret Service agents aren't supposed to think … they're supposed to patrol a space and react according to their training and their knowledge of the broader system’s design.
We do something similar in education (though without attack dogs, and — usually — without guns). We spend tons of time building systems to build procedures and protocols around important decisions. Sometimes they're designed to prevent superintendents from using early education funds to build football stadiums. Sometimes they're aimed at incentivizing teachers to set certain priorities or instruct a particular way.
Read More →