Steve, you speak of a system as having a common goal, and suggest that the system's components must be delineated and coordinated. In the model you offer, you place stakeholders in the four corners and student learning at the center. Should students perhaps be given a location as stakeholders, or persons with vested interests in the system's outcomes, in a "fifth" corner? What if students' interests played a part in defining the goals of education? Relatedly, is it their learning, or students themselves, that should be at the center of the model? -S.T.

Steve Responds:
While students are definitely stakeholders in the model, I am reluctant to place them at the same level as the other stakeholders. This reluctance stems from my perceptions of children's inability to establish or define the most valuable learning outcomes for themselves. In my own research I have come across cases of learners avoiding certain content areas because they feel that content would be unsettling. As learners get older they should develop a better ability to define their own learning paths, but even at the university level students still often have difficulty in making good learning decisions.

Student learning should remain at the center of the model so that everyone else involved in the system has a constant reminder of the overall goal of the system. I like Susan's sugestion of adding a " fifth corner " that includes students. This way, students could have an input into the system, but would be guided in that input by the other stakeholders. Even then, I retain some reservations about third-graders' ability to set priorities for themselves in terms of learning goals.