Can We Just Stop?

straight talk about students and learning

I Fought Bureaucracy and Bureaucracy Won.

Is this a given? For crying out loud! Can We Just Stop? The system wins over innovation; status quo wins over creative problem-solving; lies win over truth; no wins over yes; adults win over kids. This is a description of a particular urban school district I a familiar with, and, I am sure, the majority of urban school districts across the country.

I heard a statement made yesterday about an innovative new district school: “If they think they are going to function as an in-district charter, they have another thing coming. That is not going to happen.”

This statement could be translated as, “If they think that they can step outside of the adult-centered bureaucracy and institute a student-centered, learning focused school, that is not going to happen on my watch!”

Do “educators” even listen to themselves? What would be so terrible about an “in-district charter” as an incubator for practices that could be easily translated to other in-district schools once they are proven to be successful! People fight for kids every day, and their voices are continually drowned-out by the background noise of the 76 Trombones of the school district bureaucracy.

How will this ever change under the current structure? Who is going to stand up and say – in this district, everyone is going to embrace proven student-centered practices – teachers, unions, district officials, parents, students, purchasing departments, business office staff, facilities, security, etc. Do they realize they are holding on to a sinking ship? Kids are counting on these “professionals” to take a calculated risk and say that our failed practices and structure are weighing this ship down to the point of sinking. To extend the ridiculous metaphor – throw the ballast overboard and return the ship to sea-worthiness.

Where are those people? I know they are out there, scattered across the country in pockets, all fighting the same battle. Sadly, it seems that even those who would innovate enter a school district and start to drink the kool-aid. The monster that ate Cincinnati (not chosen for any particular reason) is on the prowl. I am utterly disgusted and frustrated.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Education Reform | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does Cutting Education Funding Mean Less Education?? Not Unless We Let It!!

The news is starting to be sprinkled with more and more stories of horrible Governors cutting spending on education (pausing for a gasp here). Students will no longer receive the same education they have been receiving…how horrible is that? Automatically, we need to cut essential programs and services for students. Test scores will plummet and no one will ever to go college again. Don’t our kids deserve better??

Our kids deserve better than having teachers and educational leaders jump immediately to whacking a hunk off of of the most politically charged areas of education instead of taking a look inward and working creatively toward defining a new way of utilizing the funds available to reach students in ways that are most effective. Hint: “More of the same: is not the most effective. It would wonderful if educators could truly be “lifelong learners”, and practice the problem-solving skills that we promote with students
Let’s review the process of solving a problem:
1. Clearly identify the problem
2. Brainstorm as many possible solutions as possible
3. Research and test out possible solutions, and narrow the list down to a few that seem to have the best chance of meeting the need.
4. Devise further study, testing, or plans to determine the best possible solution(s)
5. Develop plans for implementation of the best possible solutions, identifying the anticipated results and ways to measure whether or not the anticipated results are achieved.
6. Review the outcomes and make recommendations for modifications.
7. Set up a schedule for ongoing review of results to insure that the solution is continually updated and meeting the need.

Yes, there are financial challenges. Less Money only means less education if we rely on outdated educational methods and bloated bureaucratic “systems” instead of fresh thinking, innovation, student-centered thinking, and willingness to take on a challenge that just could define the next generation of education marked by flexibility, innovation, smaller “systems” and more robust future-focused strategies.

Come on America. Let’s get to it!

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Education Reform | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment