-Isaac Iosifovich, seven years ago, significant changes were introduced in the metropolis education field and led to a qualitative breakthrough; the results of Moscow schoolchildren prove that. How was it possible to accomplish such high results?
-Speaking about where these changes began, it is best to recall November 2010, when during a meeting with teachers and parents in one of the schools, the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin termed it as unacceptable for Moscow to have several elite schools that the metropolis always uses to "display" while giving no attention to other schools. The Mayor highlighted that it is not appropriate to demand similar results from schools under unequal conditions.
The evaluation of the financed amount in some schools was calculated, let’s say, as 50000 rubles per student per year, while at other schools it was 200000 rubles. Moreover, the amount of funding depended on whether the headmaster succeeded to convince the Moscow City Department that he needed to allocate more money than a nearby school. Inevitably, those distinctive levels of funding immediately prompted different job offer circumstances. Those institutions that offered higher wages attracted teachers that are more qualified. As a result, the social conflict was brewing in the city, since most of the people did not have access to the opportunities accessible to children of a very narrow portion of the community. So, this large group of citizens gradually began to fall either into frustration or resentment.
What the Mayor stated then was precarious, as the most active community of Moscow sent their children to these elite schools and was satisfied with two conditions: the first is that they go to such an institution; the second that since they go there, therefore, they are exceptional. Consequently, the opposite portion of Moscow inhabitants, that was larger, yet not so active, did not receive enough recognition.
Fundamental changes in the funding system have led to absolutely explicit outcomes. Presently the funding for each student is equal, regardless of which school he attends. For the city, every child is equally valuable. At the same time, more funding is granted for the education of children with disabilities, as it is more challenging to create adequate conditions for them.
Due to equal funding, the faculty teams among schools began to equalize because wages did not differ. Indeed, there are differences in amounts; but it is no longer likely to suppose that salaries vary dramatically in different schools.
Due to the funding, the equipment for schools is also improving. All schools, not just the "exceptional" ones, were able to begin high-quality restorations and purchased advanced equipment. It is no secret that earlier supplying the school with good computers depended on whether parents were able to allocate funds for it.
The key result of the Mayor's decision, which we have been consistently implementing over the past seven years, is that today we have stopped the spread of resentment and frustration among the majority of Muscovites; and the high quality of education has stopped to be "unique."
-Are there still the opponents of this approach?
-Yes, still these arrangements draw criticism from those who have lost "exclusivity," even though no one has taken anything away from them (except "exclusivity").
-At the end will all schools be equal among themselves?
-It does not matter how similar the schools seem; fortunately, children will always mature differently from one another: because they have different families, various supplementary education, diverse surroundings, they read different books, watch different films, and browse different things on the Internet. At the same time, any child is simultaneously influenced by several educational systems: school; supplementary education; family; his community of friends; companions who are also an educational system. Today it further involves the media, and, of course, the Internet space. Therefore, despite all the immense educational importance of the school, it does not have a 100 % monopoly on the educational impact on the child.
Nevertheless, if we want (and I am sure that we all want) that, growing up, our children hear and understand each other, they must have a common part of childhood. So, such a common part of childhood can, and therefore should be the school. School, as the foundation of democracy of any State, must ensure equal access and equal rights.
Manifesting yourself above other people must be earned by long life and hard work. And children 's primary conditions of life in the field of school should be equally shared and accesible. It is always important to remember that school life unfolds the understanding of the system of "identifying people." A graduate of a Russian school should be aware of the graduate of a Russian school as his array and therefore build relations with one another, communicate, work accordingly.
By the senior classes, of course, children will have an expanding variety of interests; and any school must provide diverse activities to accommodate students. However, for this purpose, it is not necessary to separate children.
An excellent case is "Sirius." During one shift, children come together of entirely different interests (science, sports, art). It is their shared communication and shared life that propose hope that when they grow up, they will acknowledge and, more importantly, appreciate the contribution to the lives of people who may not be like them. After all, a person gains something only through interacting with people different from himself.
-One of the indicators of school performance is the entry into the first grade. A few years ago, there were schools where no one wanted to enroll their children. Are there such educational institutions today?
-Today, all schools declaring admission receive first grades. In 2012, when we first began enrolling by electronic registration, we had 80 schools where no one enrolled children in the primary classes. Now there are no such schools. Indeed, some schools are more enticing for some students, some are less, but this difference is no longer blatant.
-Also seven years ago, a mass consolidation of schools into comprehensive educational complexes began. Is it possible to declare that this organizational and administrative reform of Moscow education has been completed?
-Nothing appears on its own. Once we balanced the funding, not through the headmaster's ability to convince the Moscow City Department, but solely by the single parameter - the student, schools began to ponder not about how to negotiate with the Department, but about attracting new students. Next, schools started to question, for example, why for a thousand children they need two headmasters, two supply managers, five accountants, etc. For instance, why are there two physics teachers who work part-time? Hence, the process of the natural integration of school resources started. As a result, we got big, substantial schools.
However, now, no impartial indicators are requiring further integration. Today, most Moscow schools have an optimal combination of resources. There may be rare cases of consolidations, but mass integration is not in high demand right now.
-How will education in Moscow further develop?
-Good question. Let's use the example: Moscow primary school according to the results of the international study PIRLS (assessment of reading literacy in primary grades - IF) earned the first place in the world, and with a large margin. Next, these children go on to middle and high schools. The high school passed PISA (international study among high school students - IF) good but remained in sixth places in the world.
I believe that Muscovites have the right to be the best in the world, not only in primary school but also in high school. So, two years ago, the Mayor initiated a powerful project, formally described as "integration of all levels of education," but in fact, it is a pre-professional education. Within the framework, we launched engineering, academic, and medical classes; cadet classes were in high demand. There are also pre-universities for high school students on the bases of the leading universities of the city. This project is still being developed.
Therefore, I think that in the next years, the senior school, starting from the 8th grade, will develop intensely.
The process of evolution of the high school is not accidental. Before the introduction of the Russian State Exam (RSE), Moscow schoolchildren had the advantage over non-Moscow residents of entering Moscow universities since they, for instance, attended preparatory courses of a university. Professors of that very university prepared Muscovites for admission exams to their university, which gave immense advantages over the resident of any other region. When in 2009 the RSE became compulsory for the whole country, this advantage disappeared; and in 2010, the share of Moscow citizens enrolling for budget spots in leading universities of the capital fell significantly.
Today, to be competitive for admission to leading Moscow universities, a Moscow student must equal the strongest graduates from the regions, because primarily such people come to Moscow. Therefore, we direct our efforts to shape Moscow students to be strong competitors when entering leading universities in Moscow. For this purpose, we launched pre-professional classes, university Saturdays; organized pre-universities; and also Olympiad movement is extensively advancing.
The process of creating pre-professional classes started with a small number of schools, but every year the number increased, and today it is an extensive movement.
In at least every neighborhood, a student can find a school with an engineering, medical class, or a cadet class. There are less academic classes: about one school per district, though also the number of scientists cannot be too high.
The advantage of such classes is that if you apprehend the mistake of choosing the wrong profession, you can change your choice while still being a school student. This is the most crucial significance of pre-professional classes. So, the sophomore in the university will not grieve that he went "not there"; he has an opportunity to adjust his choice while at school.
-The share of Muscovites who win the first places during the final stages of the All-Russian School Olympiad is growing. Still, this share cannot reach 100%?
-The share of Moscow winners at the All-Russian Olympiads increased from 19% in 2010 to 37% in 2017. In the regions, observing the activity of Moscow, they are also deeply engaged in preparation for the Olympiads. Of course, the competition will escalate. A mighty leap in the Moscow Olympiad movement began in 2014, and so far it continues.
-When do you expect to complete the re-equipment under the Moscow Electronic School project?
-The Department of Information Technology equips Moscow schools on behalf of the Mayor of Moscow. In total, we have 2000 school buildings; the equipment process is on schedule, and by the end of 2018, almost all city schools will receive new tools for working at Moscow Electronic School. At the same time, the equipment available in schools that was installed five-six years ago, which many teachers use also allows working within the Moscow Electronic School. Now the teacher and headmaster alliance is generating a strategy for the development of metropolis education.
-What would you like to see in it?
-It would not be beneficial at the stage of the strategy concept development to influence it with an administrative resource. Usually, we work collectively with developers, but rather as a reference bureau.
The Mayor proposed to those people who will later implement it in their schools to separately develop a strategy. As you know, you can only correctly do something that you created yourself. Therefore, the idea of developing a concept this way is a proper step.
Of course, we will provide legal support, assistance in financial and economic calculations; but ideas, goals, tasks, mechanisms to solve these tasks, tools that the community itself will develop, will match both their needs and their capabilities. I hope I do not offend those who were the headmasters of schools in 2010-2011, but then there was no integrated headmaster community that would be able to develop shared goals and common tasks. Also, it was impossible to designate the goal development of entire education to such a diverse community, such headmasters.
Back then, the goals were generated from "above," then they had to be explained and reassured of. It was lengthy and complicated.
Now headmasters have a deep knowledge not only in pedagogy but also in economics, in management theory, in jurisprudence. These people themselves are able to develop the goals and objectives of education. I am glad that the Headmaster’s Corps became the instigator of the idea of implementing the formula "I invented, and I implemented."