Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
 

Recommended Photo Store
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading? Click here to find out.
 
Make your Amazon purchases though this banner to support our blog:
(Click here if you don't see the Amazon banner.)
 
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Contributors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Imagine no School Districts

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on January 2nd, 2011 (All posts by )

    I put up a post titled “What If” over at Heartland’s blog site.

    One minute I think we’re going to win this over the next few years, and another minute, I think there’s no hope. But a man can dream.

     

    4 Responses to “Imagine no School Districts”

    1. Carl from Chicago Says:

      I tried the link but I couldn’t get through.

    2. Mary Says:

      You make some very valid points in your “what if” scenarios. As a former teacher, I also feel the decision making power needs to be out of the hands of the federal government, and back into the hands of the community.

      Here’s what I want to add:

      What if the standard(s) students had to achieve was something more that a score on a test? There are many avenues to success in our country. Why are we putting so much emphasis on test scores?

      What if students “bought in” to the information they have to learn? Kids today are not connecting with most of the current curriculum in schools. They don’t get why they have to learn it, so they refuse and don’t try. I think we need to do a major overhaul on what is taught in the schools, and decide what is really important for students to learn in order to take their place in society and be successful after high school.

      What if we finally let go of the delusion that all kids need to go to college after high school? Our society can’t even support the college-degreed professionals we currently have, let alone future generations.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I lived for almost 40 years in a community called Mission Viejo, California. The entire area is called south Orange County and is made up of about 12 small cities that are all planned communities. The beach is about 6 miles away and the entire area is considered upscale. There are two school districts in Mission Viejo. The southern one, where my children would go, recently had a recall election for the district officers, two of whom have been indicted for corruption. About 30 years ago, a number of parents became concerned about the local public schools and a retired Episcopal priest named Father Sellers organized a private school in San Juan Capistrano, the most affluent of the small cities. Many of the organizing parents, including me, were doctors’ families. The school grew rapidly and Father Sellers moved on in a few years taking a nucleus of the outstanding teachers with him and founded another school about 12 miles away. Eventually (The last time I saw him he was in his 90s and still working), he had founded four schools, one with a high school.

      There was an interesting epiphenomenon in all this. Parents ran the schools and some wealthy parents eventually took over the boards and introduced some of their own theories. One school, that my daughter had just graduated from, had a board that hired a headmaster from Connecticut who was an advocate of “outcome based education.” A number of parents became concerned as this was not the desire of most parents. In fact, the concerned parents did some research and found he had been fired by his previous school. They held a meeting (I was invited but I would no longer have any children in the school) and one of the board members showed up. When she was told that the parents were unhappy, her reply was, “Well, if you don’t like it, you can transfer your child.” I later learned that half the parents withdrew their children and the school was advertising for applicants the following fall.

      There are a couple of lessons here. That rather small community was able to fill four new private schools (And a fifth, a Catholic high school with 2500 students) over a period of about 12 years. The school boards of those private schools saw some of the problems we see in public schools as some very interested parents clashed with wealthy parents who tended to dominate the boards. One solution to an egregious power play was to transfer the kids and the school almost collapsed. In another of the schools, I moved my youngest daughter to another Father Sellers school when the board started to be taken over by a small clique.

      The Catholic high school was built on land donated by the developers of Mission Viejo and looks like a college campus. Heisman Trophy winner (and Bengals QB) Carson Palmer played football there at the same time my middle daughter was a student. The education there is excellent. Two of my daughters graduated from it. I would say that half the doctors in the community had their children in those schools. The first Father Sellers school, which is also the largest, has about 1/3 of its students who are Jewish. I saw him one time at a bat mitzva for one of his students. If there are saints, I’m sure he is there.

      I just thought that was an interesting experiment in education. Some of the pathologies of the school district leadership showed up pretty quickly

    4. Bruno Behrend Says:

      Michael,

      Your story should be expanded to about 5000 words, and placed in an education magazine.

      It illustrates why “choice”, when limited to only Catholic or trendy schools, will not solve the problem.

      If you extrapolate form your story, we need to find ways to rapidly convert existing “Government Education Complex” infrastructure into “Parent Child Learning Network” infrastructure, we could create a large enough market to disempower “cliques” quickly.
      _____

      Mary asked: What if the standard(s) students had to achieve was something more that a score on a test? There are many avenues to success in our country. Why are we putting so much emphasis on test scores?

      BB writes: Great point, and it can’t be made enough. That said, tests are very efficient in testing knowledge. Further, properly worded multiple choice tests also can effectively test thinking skills.

      We should have a system where each child can demonstrate their work and put it in an on-line portfolio. The next step would be to allow “merit badges,” on-line testing, and unlimited access to content uptake.

      Mary asked: What if students “bought in” to the information they have to learn? Kids today are not connecting with most of the current curriculum in schools. They don’t get why they have to learn it, so they refuse and don’t try. I think we need to do a major overhaul on what is taught in the schools, and decide what is really important for students to learn in order to take their place in society and be successful after high school.

      BB writes: While you are correct about anything for older kids, I’d argue that to be successful, you have to have the building blocks to understand the world around you. You can carp about not liking or needing algebra, but you can’t go through life being unable to contemplate “variables.”

      If government pays for schools/schooling, they are going to have a say on what is learned.

      Mary asked: What if we finally let go of the delusion that all kids need to go to college after high school? Our society can’t even support the college-degreed professionals we currently have, let alone future generations.

      BB writes: From your keyboard to God’s inbox. We are approaching a world where much practical knowledge can be delivered “just in time”.

      I could argue that at least 50% of the brick and Mordor system is unnecessary, along with at least that much of the bloated payroll.

      Before you argue, buy and I-pad, look at I-Tunes U, and tell me we need bloated schools and pensioneers.