Public Education Today
"Know the arena in which you play" - This was the advice of Dr. Terry Early, an adjunct professor at Dowling College and former principal of Oakdale - Bohemia Middle School. It was one of the best pieces of advice I had heard while I was working on my Educational Administration Degree. If you click on the Coliseum, you will see what Bill Gates has to say about public education and teachers.
I am a big picture sort of thinker and learner. While things are changing in education, we have to be sure that we keep the bigger picture in mind. Yes, things are getting done, however are we getting the results we want? Be sure to look at the hyperlink behind the picture below.
If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. Oh the wonders of photo shop, however it helps create a visual for an important point. If something is working, then how can we make it even better? If something is not working, rethink it.
Additionally, I am a student of history. Therefore, I will start this discussion with
a short piece on Napoleon
After reading the preceeding hyperlink, we are reminded that the more things change,
the more they remain the same. To me, it is facsinating to read about the educational
issues of Napoleon's day and compare them to issues in education today.
How does the United States measure up?
When we look at ourselves, as a "Superpower," there are some who fret over being ranked eleven in overall productivity (as measured by per capita GDP). When we look at the other ten, we see that it is basically countries with comparatively small populations and/or countries with oil. If Qatar is ranked number one in per capita GDP and we are ranked 11th, it doesn't seem relative. With no disrespect to Snooki, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about the "country" of Jersey (ranked 6th)?
CIA World Factbook
GDP - per capita (PPP)
Date of Information
GDP - per capita (PPP)
Date of Information
United Arab Emirates
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
Isle of Man
British Virgin Islands
This is the way it is for today. The big question is, where will we be tomorrow?
Often, we hear about the economic growth of China and India, as if the United States is going to be left in the dust competitively. Well, with ample natural resources and improving educational systems, of course these countries will grow economically as they should (as we should want them to, as fellow human beings). The real discussion here is about demographics. Yes, we will see more brilliant people from China and India in the global workplace, as we should; India has more honor students than the U.S. has students.
Population by Country
Would Horace Mann want to see improvements in our educational system? Of course, as do I. Just as each of us should strive for constant and never ending improvement (W. Edwards Demings). It is important to look within honestly and explore ways to improve. If for nothing else, then as a challenge to how close we can actually come to our potential both individually and collectively. Similar to a calculus equation approaching zero or infinity. Yes, I did it, I used Wikipedia even though I am a professional educator. Guess what? This year, I will encourage my students to text in class as well.
President Obama's "Race to the top" plan to improve our schools focuses on competition between the states for funding. I'm all for competition (after all, it is the capitalist way), but how the money was to be distributed was poorly thought out. Take a state like New York, many districts agreed to support
New York's application. When the state was actually awarded the $700 million dollars, where did the money go? The majority of it went to the bureaucracy in Albany and/or New York City. My local school district will receive $70,000 over 4 years. It is my guess that our district will spend more money than we receive just on legal fees as the new evaluation procedures are implemented.
How about a district by district competition with similar schools competing against each other nationally. I would predict that more innovative techniques and break throughs would develop from this kind of model. A "phase 2" would then be centered around the implementation of best practices learned from "phase 1."
If we want to talk about a national educational issue, lets talk about adding a k-12 program focusing on developing innovation & initiative (TED-Ed Brain Trust). In the late 1980's, I was enrolled in an MBA program. The buzz then was about the "Japanese" style of management." Well the "Japanese" style of management was developed by the great American educator, Dr. W. Edwards Demings. In 1950, Dr. Demings was invited to Japan by Japanese leaders, who wanted to learn how to improve business practices. Dr. Demings should be as well known as Henry Ford. We teach children about the concept of industrialization and the assembly line, however, there is generally not ample time with our state curriculums to teach about tomorrow's economic growth.
What are the perceptions about
Public Education today?
It is a classic, but it drives the point home.
Describe the person that you see.
What are people seeing in public education?
- Do people believe that we are using their tax dollars wisely?
What is your paradigm regarding education?
How are you seeing it?
New York State School Report Cards