Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where Are the Solutions?

I don’t believe the general public or the political systems that serve them truly understand the complex nature of school reform.  Consider the following:

For over a decade, teachers have been dissuaded from using lecture as an instructional method...

…BUT, within the last two years, a large amount of press time and funding has gone toward the Khan Academy, which essentially follows the principle of lecture and practice instruction.

For over a decade, graduation requirements have increased in quality and quantity…

…We also expect more students to meet these demands without giving them more time to do so.

For over a decade, teachers and school systems have struggled to make sure that students aren’t crushed under an overburden of homework…

…Yet the “flipped” classroom model is touted as a new form of teaching that will change education, never mind it absolutely requires significant homework or it won’t work.

For over a decade, standards and tests have grown to dominate the curriculum of many school subjects.  School, and increasingly teacher effectiveness is judged largely on the results of this testing…

…While creativity and not “teaching to the test” are celebrated in rhetoric, the ever present reality remains: a drop in pass rates on the tests will result in negative publicity and potentially punitive measures.

For over a decade, choice has been promoted as a solution to increase the effectiveness of education by adding competition...

…Still, no one has solved the problem of effectively educating an entire population, some of whom would choose “no education” over “any education” if given that freedom of choice.

For over a decade, vocational education has taken a back seat to the ideal of “college and workforce” readiness...

…And in our public education system we’ve moved so much toward “student achievement” as the sole measure of performance that creativity, interpersonal skills, work ethic, motivation, and even positive behavior (all critical for both college and workforce readiness) are no longer reinforced.

For over a decade, we have tried to move education out of the twentieth century factory model of production…

…Now incentive structures, strict hierarchies of authority, standardization of teaching and testing applied to schools and teachers directly contradict this attitude.

So the men and women who directly commit their lives to working with children daily are simply self-interested.  While the men and women who engage in conference hopping, ladder climbing, and political back-scratching are putting Students First.  And those who profit from speaking engagements, consulting gigs, and high profile media exposure are in it for the kids.


  1. You said it brother. Solutions are to find ways to more effectively take back the accounting of the current state of education. Your last paragraph is pretty much the problem. Teachers are either unable, unwilling or unaware to the degree they are incapable of leading the way. Some of that we control, some of that we do not. Until teachers are again at the center of American public education getting help doing their jobs from all those other people involved that you describe, not much will change. Until that happens, and I have to believe in my heart the worm will indeed turn, then all we can do is move forward and focus on what we do indeed control while trying to correct things we see wrong.

  2. Thanks for the feedback all.

    "effectively take back the accounting"

    That's a big thing-- accountability. Accountability in public education is a political reality, but it doesn't seem to go all the way to the top.

  3. "accounting" in the traditional sense as well as control of the narrative to the public of what is actually occurring.