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Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Our Own Fault - Another Rant

By now, you have probably heard some of the discussion on "Waiting For Superman", Education Nation on NBC, and Oprah's shows on both. Many folks who support public education have gotten upset.... no......mad, at the discussion. Why is Oprah leading the discussion they say?

The simple answer is because those in public education are not. This is not to say those folks are not doing great work, or working very hard, but the  fact remains, many children get left behind - and whether it is the fault of schools, or society, no one knows the possible solutions better than public educators. There are many possible reasons for the discussion not taking place:
  • It is hard, expensive, unknown,
  • The solutions may reside outside the public education system
  • We might fail or be blamed for things beyond our control
  • We've been treading water for so long, it's all we can do to keep up.
Now, let me make one thing clear. Those who state this is a new crisis are playing politics. They have hidden agenda's. What is going on today, has been going on for at least the last 40 years. Schools are better today than they were 40 years ago - children who want to learn, can, and do, get a better education today than 40 years ago.

But we have tried to hind the truth. It wasn't too long ago that we measured high school graduation rates based on the number of students who started the year as seniors - which hid the large number of students who never made it to the senior class. We've fought standardized tests (and continue to do so), when the vast majority of the population believe they (tests) help to ensure their tax dollars are well spent. We try to "play" within the rules, when we need to get out of our box to make real progress. Make no mistake, our schools are making slow steady progress. But, at this rate of progress, at least two more generations will be lost.

We have too much politics. Eight years ago we had a governor candidate in South Carolina who exposed the real graduation rates. But the only thing he did with that information was prove the state could exist for 8 years without education leadership from the governor's office. If he cared about the children, he would have forced all the parties together, forced collaboration, and developed an improvement plan. But he was unwilling, or unable to do that because the children, or the  improvement, were never  his issue.

Never-the-less. We now have an Education Media Crisis in America - an emergency if you will. If you've ever taken emergency response training, you know it is important to take charge of the discussion (because some one else will if you don't).  It is time to take politics out and look at education as a process - and time to involve the real education leaders of American, the classroom teachers.

It's OK that Oprah is talking about education. What is not OK is that no one in Public Education is leading the country to the solutions, and few are stepping up to be ready followers.

From Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

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