The Purpose of Education, part 3

Here is what some smart people came up with in 1918:



Secondary education should be determined by the needs of the society to be served, the character of the individuals to be educated, and the knowledge of educational theory and practice available. These factors are by no means static. Society is always in process of development; the character of the secondary-school population undergoes modification; and the sciences on which educational theory and practice depend constantly furnish new information. Secondary education, however, like any other established agency of society, is conservative and tends to resist modification. Failure to make adjustments when the need arises leads to the necessity for extensive reorganization at irregular intervals. The evidence is strong that such a comprehensive reorganization of secondary education is imperative at the present time.


Reformatted, shorter, prettier:

Super short outline: Read the rest of this entry »

What is Education all about?


We all know education is a good thing. We believe we have a “right” to education. We hear about how the “system is broken”, how America is lagging in the global market. There is something inside us that compels us to ask “What is wrong?”


One perspective of where we are today

There seems to be a popular belief that the US is trailing a number of major players in the Global Education map. This idea is reinforced when we are treated to articles, charts and live coverage. On the topic of reform, Michele Rhee is really shaking things up with, as demonstrated in the 2010 documentary “Waiting for Superman”. We have Federal initiatives like “No Child Left Behind” that attempts to spur us on towards higher standards. As a nation, we have been concerned about the education of our children and young adults for a long, long time. I hear lots of talk of reform, of blaming parents, teachers, administrators, etc. Locally, I am hearing the word “rigor” pop up a lot. Personally, I am not 100% clear what “rigor” means in the context of education, but there seems to be a sense that we need more of it, we need to produce people that are more ready for the workplace to help us compete internationally.


I have to ask, are things really that bad? Is this what we really need? Read the rest of this entry »

More thoughts on "reform"

I want to be careful about this word “reform”. I am starting to realize it has a lot of baggage. So let me say right out that when I use this word, I mean “acknowledging the good that already exists and needs to remain, that which is not so good will be either replaced with something better or otherwise improved”. Note there is a lot of subjectivity in that. But I also want to strike for balance.


So while looking at nochildheldback, which led me to look at waitingforsuperman, I now find myself on the Waiting For Superman Facebook wall, which seems MUCH more current. A recent post points me to a TIMES article which I found refreshing in the sense that it takes to heart the need to focus on the lower ends of the SES spectrum. Or at least, that was my take-away. My trouble now is trying to thread the needle between things like socialism, the vaporous “American Dream” and our own inherent greed.


More later.

No Child Held Back: The White Paper

The first part (called a “module”) of the NCHB free online course involves reading the NCHB white paper. I mentioned this briefly, but after trading a few emails with the author (Yovel Badash), I decided to take the time to read and comment on it. Plus, he is trying to get a “conversation” started on this topic, so to avoid sounding really stupid I wanted to gather background information and my own thoughts before I foray out into someone else’s world.

Here goes. I will emphasize that, point-by-point, I find myself in an amazing amount of agreement with Mr. Badash. My comments below reflect mostly where I have questions and/or concerns.
The quote on the cover is  Read the rest of this entry »

Champaign PTA Council President's Dinner

Last night, the PTA Council hosted a PTA President’s Dinner honoring PTA Presidents for all the hard work. I was quite impressed by the representation of school principals and members of the BOE. I had an opportunity to finally meet Angela Smith (Franklin Principal who has been in the news lately).


What was really awesome about this time was the Panel discussion held right after dinner with members of the Board; in attendance were (right to left) Greg Novak, Sue Grey, Tom Lockman, Kristine Chalifoux and Jamar Brown. Dr. Bob Malito was also sitting on the panel and spoke a few times.


A question was asked about the two newly soon-to-be-empty positions (Beth Shepperd and Dorland Norris), and both Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Niles "Why I send my children to public schools"

The following article was forwarded to me this morning (your name will remain anonymous for now *grin*):



Mr. Niles raises a lot of good points. I have not yet had time to even take a look at the numerous comments he has collected, nor his responses to those comments. I intend to. Eventually.


As I told the person who sent this to me, my main concern is that all these issues have a common root, IMO. From my point of view, it seems like we can boil down the issues to a lack of social justice, a lack of caring for our neighbors. The old cliche “love others as you love yourself” comes to mind. We have got the “love yourself” part down pat. 🙂


And here is what I mean by this. We have a ton of “haves” in our community. And we have a lot of “have nots”. And borrowing from the Occupy jargon, we even have a few “have-a-whole-heck-of-lot-mores”. As Mr. Niles points out, the children at the bottom end of that spectrum seem to be the most endangered, I would say the most crucial aspect to measuring community health, and even they seem to be doing better than 20 years ago. It would make sense that even these kids are getting something out of education. That’s the whole point of public education, right? And yet I feel quite strongly that if we were to get over our pride and allow ourselves to take a holistic, 10,000 foot view of Unit 4 or public education in general, we would be compelled to “throw in our lot” and collaborate, to cooperate, to come together as a community and reinforce the idea that everyone is valued for who they are, not necessarily what they do.


Trust me, I know that is not easy. It is so natural, so ingrained, to think about all the hard work one has done to reach a certain place in life. And then to look at someone else, someone who might have gone to jail, someone who might have made some really bad choices in life, someone who might be “lazy” and cannot or does not work, to look at these folks and start making comparisons or judgments. I confess, I have been there, I know what it is like. Yet, does that really help? Who gains when that happens?


Yesterday I mentioned No Child Held Back ( Yovel wants to start conversations. I am all for conversations. But I also yearn for action. So let’s get the conversation started. And be ready to put one foot in front of the other.

No Child Held Back

Victor Rivero recently wrote an EdTech article about moving away from NCLB. Interesting timing, eh?


So this is just a little strange for me. I feel like reflects a lot of the conversations that I have already been having. Except these guys take it to the next level and bring in people who know what they are talking about. The major downside is that I don’t see any conversations on the website. I see “Join the conversation”, but no conversation. It’s very much like walking into the Grand Opening of a store and all the shelves are bare. I see “Take action” but no actionable steps to be taken.


Here is another strange thing. Read the rest of this entry »

What's wrong with this picture?

As a child (and even as an adult, truth be told), I rather enjoyed the “What’s wrong with this picture?” on the back of Highlights magazines. There is a picture with several humorous “impossibilities” or “extremely unlikely” nuances, for instance, a fish walking a dog. Or a car with a doughnut wheel. Or a fire hydrant spitting out grape juice.

When looking at the school district, there are several things that just seem wrong. Unfortunately, they are far more serious. Read the rest of this entry »

Ideas on restructuring Unit 4

When I talked with Dr. Bob Malito back in September, one of things I did not mention in my summary was one of the big ideas he has about possibly restructuring how we do 7-12th grade. During our last Wednesdays at Houlihans, this idea came up again, so I figured it is past time for me to give it some space here. I can swear I read this elsewhere, but right not Google is not helping me out. NG? WILL? I am sure I’ll find it some time…..

So here is where we are at. Not too long ago, a bunch of folks wanted to create a brand-new 3rd highschool up near Olympian Drive. I am not exactly sure who the biggest pushers were, but once the public got involved in the discussions, the BOE was forced to take a step back from their aggressive planning. Which is probably a good thing. Granted, we need to do something about our aging buildings. But what? Read the rest of this entry »

STEM and Technology in Education

I have been following EdTech, and a recent article caught my attention. When I dug deeper into the infographic, I started to wonder. Than to question. And finally I had to type up my thoughts. I’ll not repeat here what I wrote there. But basically, “Why the focus on STEM?” Is that really what we want?

I hear Dr. Bob Malito talk about the lack of competitiveness in our school district, and the “need” to introduce more rigor into our curriculum. I hear our BOE members saying the same thing (“Hi, Greg”). So now I want to toss this out for discussion. When folks like Bob and Greg talk like this, I start nodding my head in agreement – what they are saying sure sounds like it makes a lot of sense. But then I think about what is going on around me. I think about how folks have been trying to reform, reshape, remold and redo education for a lot longer than I have been alive. And if our goal is to produce money-making automatons for the corporate empire known as the USA, then yes, I totally agree, let’s bring on the STEM, let’s bring on the rigor.

Am I off my rocker? Am I being too dramatic? I am relatively knew to this sphere – I can spout my opinions left and right. But what do those who have been around the block a few times have to say?