My View II: Schools Should Think Big and Grand in Strategic Planning Rather than Short-Term and Parochial

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teacherWhile the beginning of the Strategic Plan discussion came from the wrong impetus – the examination of reconfiguration – it nevertheless presents this community with an amazing opportunity.  The reconfiguration discussion was destined to fail from the start – too many in this community felt it was something being forced upon them rather than coming from a place of need.

But, from the ashes of reconfiguration – and let us call it now, reconfiguration is dead for at least a generation – comes the promise of strategic planning.  The challenge that I put forth to the school district is to use this opportunity not to tweak the district around the edges, but to think big.

DJUSD is a district of privilege.  It is a district that can get the community to unfailingly back it in terms of funding obligations.  It is a district that excels in producing high-achieving students that are as competitive as any in terms of going into good colleges and putting themselves onto good career paths.

But we must acknowledge that DJUSD does not work for everyone.  The depth and persistence of the district’s achievement gap is troubling.  The fact that Davis’ achievement gap is larger than in other districts is troubling.

One person fairly familiar with the situation suggested to me that the way that under-achieving students are treated, obligated to take support classes which perhaps keep them from participating in electives and other activities, is part of the problem, as they end up feeling disconnected from the school and developing self-esteem and other problems.

In the crunch to keep the district overall program funding in place, the district has failed to appropriately deal with the achievement gap issue.

Beyond that, we have some interesting data emerging.  The similar schools data are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

By that score, five schools were ranked at 1: Birch Lane, Cesar Chavez, Korematsu, Pioneer and DaVinci.

Willet and North Davis were a 2, Harper, Holmes and Davis High were a 3.  Patwin was a 4.  Montgomery was a 5.  Emerson was a 6.

Some interesting patterns emerge here, but the most critical point is that, while taking into account income, demographics and education, the schools in Davis do not fare nearly as well when we compare ourselves to other schools in affluent school districts.

This data joins with the achievement gap data to suggest that the district’s strong academic numbers reflect more of its population base than necessarily the quality of the schools.

If these are problems facing our district, we have opportunity.  While I do not subscribe to the overall criticism of public schools – I tend to believe that the problem schools are less reflective of the school system and are more a function of where they reside – I note that the classroom of today is not very different from the classroom of my youth more than 30 years ago, and probably a teacher from the 1950s, while perplexed by some of the new technology, would not feel altogether out of place in the classroom of today.

Compare school changes over the last few decades to changes in technology fields, advances in science, the changes in personal computers and the advent of smart phone technology, and you will see a field that is lagging.

Twenty years ago came the movement to standardize test our way to educational proficiency.  Two decades later, teachers and districts find themselves stifled by test score demands on top of dwindling resources.

Davis represents a unique opportunity to change the way we do education while still adhering to the overly-onerous state and federal education requirements.

The unique opportunity presents itself in numerous ways.

First, the community has been willing to fund the district.  That is not true in many other communities.  But in Davis, not only have the voters approved five parcel tax measures since 2007, but individual donors have stepped up on multiple occasions to help backfill programs that otherwise would have to be cut.

Second, just as Davis finds itself well-positioned to take advantage of economic development efforts, the same resources exist within this community for our students.  Whether we are looking at tapping into technology companies for supplies or resources, or human capital for their expertise, we are simply not taking advantage of the wealth of resources that we have already.

I truly believe that researchers and companies would love to give back to the community and help.

So I say, instead of thinking small – reconfiguration, funding of programs – let us think big.  Let us take the time now to plan what the educational system of tomorrow will look like.

And if it ends up that we come up with a plan for the future that cannot exist under current laws, then we have the resources and the time to press our leaders in the state legislature and even Congress to change the law and allow Davis to become the pilot program for the future of education.

Let us put all of that great academic and research talent that exists in this community to work and help create the educational system of the future.

Let Davis become the center for innovation, the model that the rest of the state, the nation and even the world aspires to become.

We have that chance now, but only if we think big, bold and outside of the box.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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31 thoughts on “My View II: Schools Should Think Big and Grand in Strategic Planning Rather than Short-Term and Parochial”

  1. David M. Greenwald

    I’m more intrigued with the idea of the science school, engineering, technology – the innovators. I will confess I have not really read educational research for some time, so I am not up on the field, but to me, that field is behind the curve here.

  2. medwoman

    I would also suggest a stronger push to link students with successful businessmen, scientists, medical professionals, lawyers…. in the community. DaVinci has gradually been taking steps in this direction with their internship program, and DHS may be as well since I am not current. However, it does not seem to me as though this is as large a component of education as it could be, and perhaps we could be starting earlier in the educational process.

  3. J.R.

    [quote]Twenty years ago came the movement to standardize test our way to educational proficiency. Two decades later, teachers and districts find themselves stifled by test score demands on top of dwindling resources.
    [/quote]

    This is a misunderstanding, though one that is repeated often by the teachers union, which seeks to protect the poorest teachers.

    Standardized test scores for the first time gave a way to compare educational achievements across the state. Underperforming teachers hate this for obvious reasons. The fraction of the student year devoted to tests is tiny.

    [quote]lets enlist UCD’s Education School in the process[/quote]

    Not a good idea. Education schools tend to jump on fads and untested theories. Their record in the real world of schools is abysmal. They are, to put in mildly, not highly respected in the academic community.

  4. wdf1

    [i]Twenty years ago came the movement to standardize test our way to educational proficiency.[/i]

    I remember that before that there criticisms of the public schools based on test scores that were floating around in the news, for example the decline in SAT test scores supposedly marked a decline in the quality of public schools. What this often ignored is that over time increasingly larger populations of students have taken an interest in college. No longer was it for a select and privileged elite. And the Vietnam War made college an option to escape the draft — more reason for more applicants to take the SAT who hadn’t before.

    I would welcome district strategic planning that would explore what’s missing in our education system when we become so driven by standardized test scores. I sense there is a build up of pushback to standardized testing that has developed into rejection of SAT scores by colleges, criticism of NCLB, and even local GATE arguments. Even in Davis, where there is a potentially more enlightened population, so much district planning and decision making is driven with an eye principally on standardized test scores.

    Creative endeavors are not easily measured by standardized tests, including performing and visual arts, social & club activities, and even athletics. Could you predict who would build a winning robot in a robotics competition based on standardized test scores? These are all things that tend to get pushed aside in an environment of dominant focus on standardized test scores.

  5. wdf1

    J.R.: [i]Standardized test scores for the first time gave a way to compare educational achievements across the state. Underperforming teachers hate this for obvious reasons. [/i]

    This is also a standard defense of standardized testing. That it’s all a bunch of incompetent teachers and the union complaining and defending incompetence (which we assume the standardized tests measures appropriately). But also art teachers, music teachers, coaches, voc-ed teachers, etc. hate the standardized testing environment for obvious reasons. In a budget-cutting environment, it’s all about preserving the programs that can make you look good, measurably, and cutting what doesn’t make a measurable difference.

    Here’s an example I’ve seen duplicated in various ways. I scored well on a Spanish language standardized test. My friend did not. But when we both went to a Spanish speaking country, he was much more effective at communicating than I. I happened to know all the correct grammar and had a decent vocuabulary, but he could play charades and come up with more creative and interesting ways to communicate ideas. What did the standardized test measure? If a Spanish teacher was actually good at suggesting some of these creative and interesting “charade-like” means of communication, but that would take time away from drilling vocab and grammar, what are we measuring?

    [i]The fraction of the student year devoted to tests is tiny.[/i]

    The amount of time spent actually testing is a fraction of the school year. But the curriculum for the rest of the year is prescribed with the goal of getting the highest standardized test scores possible. Anything else is a waste.

    I’ve said this before, but imagine measuring your health based on your BMI and your blood pressure. If those numbers are outside the established norm, there are different ways to go about bringing those numbers to an acceptable norm. You can develop a healthy diet and lifestyle, for example, or you can take blood pressure medication and starve yourself, as two possibilities. The latter will get you results more efficiently but are habits that are unstable in the long run. But the latter is the kind of educational environment that standardized testing has forced us to.

  6. J.R.

    To wdf1

    Your comments miss the point of standardized testing. It is not meant to be a complete measure of academic achievement. It is only one data point among many. It gives a way of comparing the same measurement across the entire state. The information it reveals must be properly interpreted.

    Your analogy about BMI and blood pressure is appropriate. OF course they don’t fully measure your health. But they are highly valuable data. Calling for eliminating standardized testing in schools is like asking doctors not to use BMI or blood pressure readings in evaluating health.

    The problem of incompetence is a difficult one, but until teachers themselves support ridding the classrooms of their incompetent colleagues standardized testing is the best indicator we have. Numerous studies have shown that incompetent teachers cause tremendous harm to generations of children. Everyone in Davis knows examples of local teachers who have no business being in the class room. While shining a light on incompetent teachers and failing schools is only one, relatively minor benefit of standardized tests, it is a vital one, and will continue to be so until teachers step up to the plate.

  7. wdf1

    J.R.: [i]Your comments miss the point of standardized testing. It is not meant to be a complete measure of academic achievement. It is only one data point among many. It gives a way of comparing the same measurement across the entire state. The information it reveals must be properly interpreted.[/i]

    Schools in the U.S. are deemed failing based solely on standardized test scores in reading and math. That’s it. Under the ideal goals of NCLB, all children are to be 100% proficient or above in reading and math by the end of the 2013-14 school year. Montgomery Elementary has been in program improvement for several years now. But I don’t see any indication that Montgomery teachers are inferior to Willett teachers, or that the principal is less competent, but NCLB suggests otherwise.

    There are far more bilingual kids at Montgomery (even apart from MME’s SI program) than elsewhere in Davis, except maybe Chavez elementary. Shouldn’t bilingualism be valued as a 21st century asset in the U.S.? On that score, Willett Elementary is a failure at developing bilingual students, and MME is more successful.

    Entry into the GATE program is determined by standardized test scores. Do you wonder if there are positive traits not being measured by those standardized tests?

    I am okay with accepting that standardized test scores measure something, but its value is extremely small compared to everything else out there that an education provides. We are missing focus on the rest of the educational spectrum.

  8. wdf1

    medwoman: [i]DaVinci has gradually been taking steps in this direction with their internship program, and DHS may be as well since I am not current.[/i]

    I am aware that at least some ROP classes ([url]http://davisseniorhigh.net/files/departments/rop.html[/url]) at DHS have internship programs as a component.

  9. wdf1

    DMG: [i]Some interesting patterns emerge here, but the most critical point is that, while taking into account income, demographics and education, the schools in Davis do not fare nearly as well when we compare ourselves to other schools in affluent school districts.[/i]

    I appreciate the sentiment in asking, “are we doing as well as we could?”, but I criticize the data used to support that statement above. Does Montgomery being ranked #5 mean that another school is better at teaching character? Have better art and music instruction? Have a better “school climate”? We don’t know, because once again, those things aren’t measured for those rankings.

    Jose Granda also made a big deal of this ([url]http://www.noschoolboardtaxes.org/davis_schools_ranking.html[/url]) in opposing the school parcel taxes, especially noting that no Davis school was in the top 15 among Sacramento area schools for 2010-11. But then last October, the Sac Bee reported that Willett was #5 in rankings ([url]http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/12/4904751_a4904817/sacramento-area-school-districts.html[/url]) for the past year. Does that mean that Granda had a point or didn’t?

  10. B. Nice

    I agree test scores are one small, and not always accurate, way of measuring academic success. The teachers of low scoring kids should not automatically be considered incompetent. On the flip side teachers of high scoring kids should not atomically be considered competent. To use WDF1′ s analogy, having an appropriate BMI and blood pressure level, does not necessarily mean you are healthy. And numerous factors can contribute to negative results at a doctor check-up. Just like a few test at the doctors office can not accurately measure your heath, standardized test scores do not accurately measure a teachers or a students competence.

  11. wdf1

    wdf1: [i]There are far more bilingual kids at Montgomery (even apart from MME’s SI program)…[/i]

    Re-write as “There are far more bilingual kids at Montgomery (even apart from Marguerite Montgomery Elementary’s Spanish Immersion program)

    NCLB = No Child Left Behind act of 2001.

    Again, sometimes I get lazy and use too much jargon. Sorry.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]I appreciate the sentiment in asking, “are we doing as well as we could?”, but I criticize the data used to support that statement above. Does Montgomery being ranked #5 mean that another school is better at teaching character? Have better art and music instruction? Have a better “school climate”? We don’t know, because once again, those things aren’t measured for those rankings. [/quote]

    All of that is fair, but I think it’s easy to get bogged down on the metrics here. I think the way we teach kids fundamentally needs to adapt to the now. Do you agree?

  13. wdf1

    DMG: [i]All of that is fair, but I think it’s easy to get bogged down on the metrics here. I think the way we teach kids fundamentally needs to adapt to the now. Do you agree?[/i]

    But that’s exactly the point. We have already become too bogged down in metrics when it has become clear that we’re not sure that we’re actually measuring success. I would like to see the state and federal government lighten up considerably on metrics-driven education. Finland’s education system ([url]http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/us-education-reform-lessons-from-finland[/url]) is one model of what successful education can look like that isn’t metrics-driven.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    I tend agree and that was imbedded in this point: “Twenty years ago came the movement to standardize test our way to educational proficiency. Two decades later, teachers and districts find themselves stifled by test score demands on top of dwindling resources.”

  15. Edgar Wai

    In education, the primary goal of having a metric should be to match students with [b]the[/b] resources conductive for their education (instead of simply increasing or decreasing the [b]amount[/b] of resources). It is more about [i]what[/i], not [i]how much[/i].

    In the larger context, the education system is part of the “problem-solving system”. One can consider the education system the “training department” of a company. The purpose of the system is to solve problems (technical, social, etc) and create end values (peace, happiness, etc).

    “Training” itself is not solving problems or creating end values, it is only creating the [i]potential[/i] to do so. In the absolute scale, the “training cost”, the outstanding problems, and the negative end values should all be minimized.

    The difficulty to measure teaching performance due to the duration between the time of education and the time of “value production” is often raised. I know of these concepts that address this concern.

    [b]Concept 1: Shorting the investment cycle[/b]

    Instead of being subjected to the delay between education and value production, act proactively to shorten the duration. Allow students to tackle actual problems in a community and let them work directly on creating values for the community.

    One type of work that is directly appropriate for “students” is “teaching”. A hierarchy of teaching can be easily created where students with advanced knowledge in a subject also spends time teaching students in lower class, either by actively teaching, tutoring, or providing feedbacks.

    To do this, certain laws may have to change to allow the “adult” population of teachers to decrease to accommodate the fact that part of their teaching load is offset by other students who are also teaching. The role of the adult educator changes to that of supervising and auditing teaching.

    When the system is in equilibrium, the entire education system will become free, because the tuition that a student would pay is offset by the compensation they receive by teaching the lower class.

    [b]Concept 2: Potential can be measured[/b]

    While actual outcome of education can take a long time to track and measure, potential gained can be measured. To have a productive outcome is a coincidence of a few factors such as knowledge of a subject area, knowledge and ability to use problem-solving methodologies, and access or authority to act on the issues.

    In our system, the most lacking part is access and authority. Many problems we face today can be fixed by students, but not fixed simply because they don’t have the access to act on those issues.

    In terms of the three factors, the education system should lead with access to know the problems, followed by building the foundation on the methodologies of problem-solving (since they can be applied across different context), followed by actual subject area knowledge. (Note that this is the same order if one were to publish a thesis.)

    Our current education system is somewhat prioritized in the reverse order. Students learn facts that have no direct relation to problem to solve or value to create. Students learn methods without an actual problem to solve (only doing homeworks). The student only gets to see the actual problem by the time they are employed (and by then there is a disconnect from the education system).

    As a result, the students become “productive” later, and spending more time learning about knowledge and methodologies that might have become obsolete by the time they start “working”. This is a waste of human resource and leads to lack of motivation, lack of purpose, lack of sincerity, and depression.

    A teacher that understands this philosophy sees students as potential collaborators to solve unsolved problems in our world. By deduction, the majority of the compensation of such a job role does not come from “teaching”, but from successfully solving problems. Because the problems they are trying to solve are huge, they [b]must[/b] collaborate and train others to help solve the problem, and is ethically willing to let any person surpass them and take charge.

    To implement this, the community must be equipped with a mindset to get problems solved, instead of “racing to be the one who solves the problem”. The later mindset is the result of our capitalist competitive culture, which is counter-productive to the education system that is efficient and sustains peace and happiness for all.

  16. Edgar Wai

    (cont.)

    [b]Concept 3: Everyone is a teacher[/b]

    Following from the last two points, it can be deduced that the cause and effect of implementing such education is that everyone needs to recognize that they are teachers and students, or in other words, they are all collaborators. As a result, before anyone tries to criticize the education, they should ask themselves whether they themselves is teaching enough.

    Teaching is not a role only for teacher. It is a efficient, ethical role for everyone. Everyone should be taking initiatives to solve problems and be a good communicator while doing so. The professional difference between a “teacher” and any other type of job role, is that a “teacher” takes initiatives to solve problems regarding effective communication skills, and teachers everyone else how to teach. The students are not just “clients”, but their “assets” to conduct their “research”. While the outcome of teaching includes what the students had learned, a primary, expected value of that job role (in the culture I am explaining), is advances in teaching methodologies that will benefit society many-fold.

    [b]Concept 4: A good teacher has a metric[/b]

    Following concept 3, a teacher’s role includes doing research on good teaching methods. For the teacher to know if his method is any good, the teacher himself [b]must[/b] already have defined a set of metrics to [b]evaluate himself[/b]. As a result, in such a culture, it is absurd for teacher to protest about being evaluated, because that is an essential part of their job: To evaluate themselves so that they know what teaching methods work and what does not, and to evaluate students so that they know what each student needs to learn better. Before a teacher evaluates others they would already know how to evaluate themselves.

  17. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]I would also suggest a stronger push to link students with successful businessmen, scientists, medical professionals, lawyers…. in the community. DaVinci has gradually been taking steps in this direction with their internship program, and DHS may be as well since I am not current. However, it does not seem to me as though this is as large a component of education as it could be, and perhaps we could be starting earlier in the educational process.[/i]

    I agree 100% I would add that this needs to be the PRIMARY component of education. Frankly, the only thing that matters.

    Education is cult of sorts. It generates its own systemic culture that, in many ways, is the anthesis of life after education. I think part of the catalyst for that culture is union-driven protection of the adult jobs program aspect of education. Otherwise, it is just the fact that education has developed norms, practices and routines that are quite sticky and don’t change very easily. There is some weird historical nostalgia about teaching as an honored profession that is beyond much reproach.

    We need to change that set of paradigms completely.

    Education should be a subset of that march to human self-sufficiency. That should be the primary mission and goal… to assist with the achievement of self sufficiency. The achievement of that goal should be the primary measurement of success or failure. The education system should be be allowed to apply its own nuanced measurement for two reasons. One – it will gravitate toward those measures that prevent much change. Two – it will gravitate toward measures that support the teachers and unions over that of the students.

  18. Don Shor

    Interesting. I thought the pursuit of knowledge and the development of well-rounded citizens able to participate fully in the affairs and issues of the community and the country was the general goal. Economic self-sufficiency is certainly a part of that. But “the only thing that matters”? Not to me.

  19. Frankly

    Economic self-sufficiency is the only thing that matters if it is lacking. The other goals you list should be secondary. Once economic self-sufficiency, or the means to achieve it, is attained, then the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge can proceed. The ability to participate fully in the affairs and issues of the community is a misguided education goal that, being so nebulous, provides cover for both a crappy education and also one where ideological bias and brainwashing occurs. Certainly if, as a student, your economic self-sufficiency pursuits lead you toward political science and public service, then this subject matter is important and should be a focus in your education pursuits. But regardless of the amount of humanities or liberal studies built into the education curriculum, the choice of these topics should always be subordinate to what supports the student’s pursuits of economic self-sufficiency.

    There are a lot of graduates out there armed with adequate ability to participate in the affairs and issues of the community. They got their college degree and now they can effectively participate on the Huffington post blog and protest in Occupy events. However, many of them are unemployed or underemployed. For them, the education system has failed even though they are sure it has made them smart.

  20. Edgar Wai

    Ethics and economic self-sufficiency are both necessary goals of education. [Bulletin board] ([url]https://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_kunena&func=view&catid=2&id=36&limit=6&limitstart=366&Itemid=192#1210[/url])

    From the perspective of design, if the education system is designed to achieve economic self-sufficiency but ignores ethics, it implies that the education system may set a goal to intentionally teach people to exploit one another for their own gain. There would be nothing to stop a group of “self-sufficient” people to kill off all “dependent” people, or to achieve “self-sufficiency” by conquest and annex of neighboring groups (by whatever means including genocide).

    I don’t think Frankly endorses this outcome when he said the rest is “secondary” but when I criticize his statement, I do with so because his statement literally allows that outcome.

    If I need to rank between ethics and productivity, ethics would be primary, while productivity would be secondary. The reasons are these:

    1) Someone who has ethics at least is not intentionally hurting others, including not forcing others to help them. “Entitlement” is not ethical.

    2) Someone who has ethics will always act toward doing something good for the community. This means that even if the education system fails to teach them what they need to be productive, they will have the [b]commitment[/b] to equip themselves on their own so that they can pull their own weight.

  21. Don Shor

    I do not believe it is the goal of elementary, junior high, or high school education to develop economic self-sufficiency. At that level of education the goal is to acquire a base of knowledge that allows further development in vocational, community college, or university education. It is to develop the ability to understand information and synthesize it, and acquire critical thinking skills.
    A graduated high school senior should have the basics of writing, reading, science, math, history, foreign language, dramatic or speaking arts, and the other basic requirements enumerated in the UC a – h requirements. As I often told my kids, my job is to get you out of high school able to go to college.
    That graduate should then be able to go to an entry level job where he or she will be trained in specific skills, or go to a trade school, or go to a two-year program for a specific vocation, or go on to a university. I don’t expect a high school senior to come to me with horticulture skills and the ability to run a cash register. I will provide what I need, and various colleges can give even more training in that is the avenue of economic self-sufficiency that kid wants to pursue.
    So, no, I don’t agree with your policy prescription of subordinating liberal arts or humanities or sciences or anything else. One is not of higher value than the other. My daughter’s Japanese language class in high school turned out to be the most important thing she took in terms of her career direction. Her debate class was probably second in importance. You simply don’t know what is going to be important to a teenager that leads to economic self-sufficiency.

  22. wdf1

    Frankly: [i]Economic self-sufficiency is the only thing that matters if it is lacking. The other goals you list should be secondary.[/i]

    and

    [i]But regardless of the amount of humanities or liberal studies built into the education curriculum, the choice of these topics should always be subordinate to what supports the student’s pursuits of economic self-sufficiency.[/i]

    Frankly, you screwed up, here. You would have done well to sit on that thought before committing it to blog and subject it to the scourge that you’ll get if you try to defend it.

    Sir Ken Robinson, whom you like to trot out to support your views, would disagree with your statement. Developing a sense of wonder, purpose, and discovery in the world is a more sensible primary goal of education. Economic self-sufficiency might be one by-product. In fact, if you set economic self-sufficiency as the primary goal of education, then I think you make education crappier.

  23. Edgar Wai

    Re: wdf1

    There are ways to defend what Frankly said. I don’t know the history of everything he had said to know the context of his statement. But it is possible that there is a simply misunderstanding of the context.

    When I talk about “education system”, I include every aspect of education that prepares a person to be a beneficial member of a community. The education system extends beyond the “classroom” and includes participation of everyone in the community. Everyone is part of the system even though not everyone is paid as a “teacher.”

    When Frankly talks about “education system”, it is possible that he assigns a specific goal for the system, and assumes that other interactions would cover the aspects that his education system lacks. For example, Frankly could explain that Ethics is not needed in the “education system” because it is [b]already taught[/b] at home. Similarly, art and music programs are not essential in the “education system” because people can already learn and practice on their own. When you compare these aspects, the aspect most difficult for a child to learn on their own, or in their family, is the formal skill sets leading toward literacy and “economic self-sufficiency” because:

    a) Some children come from families of low literacy and math skills. A child from such family can still do art but they can’t properly learn English or math. “Education system” fills this gap.

    b) Some children come from families that are dependent on welfare (not economically self-sufficient). Unless they become economically self-sufficient, there is no improvement over the generations. In that sense, the education system fails.

    It should also note that Frankly did not prescribe [i]what profession[/i] a person should take to become economically self-sufficient, but clearly stated that it is the “student’s pursuits”. An interpretation of that statement may include an open-ended discovery process to know what the student wants and good at, and to assist the development of their individual passion into a profession that is economically self-sufficient.

    In this context, setting economic self-sufficiency as primary goal would not imply the deficiencies that wdf1, Don Shor, or I made.

  24. wdf1

    E. Wai: A primary goal is an organizing principal for the curricula and the system. If your primary goal is “economic self-sufficiency”, then you tend to organize your curricula around obvious employable skills, and more like a trade school. Of course it becomes hard to justify music and art. Why take all those humanities classes?

    Your primary goal sends a message about what kids should expect from life. Is it all about clocking in at work until retirement so you can pay the bills? Or is it about embracing life life in its passion and mystery? You have absolutely no idea where the jobs of the next generation will come from. But you create a more interesting and dynamic future if you allow folks to pursue their interests and passions. Some will land in a lucky situation and become the next big thing. Others will take their shot and have to try something else at some point.

    Wai: [i]Similarly, art and music programs are not essential in the “education system” because people can already learn and practice on their own.[/i]

    Or c) Some children don’t have a family environment that would allow cultivation of art and music or other subjects.

    This is actually a status quo thinking that dictates that you cut these disciplines from education when budget times get stressful. One of Ken Robinson’s main themes about education (you can search for some of his more popular speeches on youtube) is that this is precisely what is wrong with education today. It was a message that Frankly appeared to embrace (Ken Robinson’s) before now.

    Performing and visual arts are social activities because, practically and ideally, they require an audience. Having them in the schools allows for better opportunity to develop these skills.

    You let individuals explore the fields of knowledge and activity, and take a shot at developing their passions. Economic self-sufficiency may or may not result, though likelier may result. But that result is predicated on what I propose as a primary goal of education.

  25. Frankly

    wdf1: [i]Developing a sense of wonder, purpose, and discovery in the world is a more sensible primary goal of education. Economic self-sufficiency might be one by-product.[/i]

    Economic self sufficiency needs to be the primary byproduct. But, you miss my point (FYI, Edgar, by his questions and points, seems to better comprehend my perspective) making this a black or white argument (i.e., either trade school or liberal arts studies.) Edgar accurately writes that I might be considering that there is an education system outside of the public school experience. He is absolutely correct. Going forward I will try to remember to use the label “formal” and “informal” education system.

    This all gets back to the accountability question. How much of a humanities curriculum should be included in the formal education system? How much math? How much language? How much sports? How much academic counseling? How much behavior counseling? And even… How much free lunch? The answer to all these questions should be… just enough for each individual student to be adequately prepared for their next life-step toward a final goal of becoming economically self-sufficient.”

    What a student needs in his formal education, will in large part, be dependent on his informal education.

    There are three things that must happen for the formal education system to do this.

    1) It must become excellent at assessing student aptitude, and interest.

    2) It must become excellent at mapping each student’s individually-tailored learning paths and successfully advancing them along that path.

    3) It much become a constantly-improving learning organization that effectively measures the primary goal’s economic self-sufficiency outcomes and the outcomes of the cascade of contributing goals, and uses the data to effect change.

    To do this, we need to shed ourselves of all the old education paradigms. To do this, we need to break the unions that have a vested interest to prevent change that proses any risk to their adult jobs program (aka the formal education system).

    Read this article if you can. It hits on many of the points I have made but from the perspective of higher learning.

    [url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324373204578376962291259182.html?KEYWORDS=humanities[/url]

    [b]Startup Takes Aim at Old-School Ways

    Pittsburgh’s Saxifrage Offers Classes at a Fraction of the Price of Traditional Colleges[/b]

    Times are a changing for education. It cannot change fast enough for me.

    Also, this topic might shed light on a related concept. The “School Of One” concept derives at least in part from a management science of situational leadership… or better known as “giving each and every employee exactly the right type of leadership for the situation.”

    The formal education system has migrates exactly the opposite direction… treating every student the same to make sure it is “fair”. Also, that “same” is increasingly benefiting a narrower student profile that is female and academically gifted.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_leadership_theory[/url]

  26. pbradyus

    Read this story

    Sacbee – Davis schools still rank high, but lag peers.
    Davis city schools have long enticed families looking for a great place to raise children, but test scores are falling and some schools are lagging behind their former peers at the top, the latest state figures show.

  27. Edgar Wai

    I don’t know what is happening to Davis schools so I by-pass pbradyus’s comment and address the topic of budgeting.

    My short answer is that “budgeting”, as a concept, limits a person’s thought about the system.

    In our context, we think about budget because we assume that the revenue is fixed, and there is X amount of achievements we should make with that fixed resource. This is not a good way to think about the situation (or any situation) because when one is thinking this way, they aren’t asking questions such as:

    1) Why can’t the students support their own education [b]already[/b]?

    2) What values can the students already deliver that society isn’t harnessing?

    Similar to Frankly’s primary goal, when I think of an education system, I don’t think in terms of how to “budget” it. I think in terms of how to make it self-sustaining. Then no one needs to fund it, or any subject it teaches. The concept of budget becomes obsolete.

    What takes so long before people start working an increase our GDP?

    Let people solve important problems, let them be important. Let their understanding of their importance lead their motivation to learn and to create. Give them access to apply what they learn to make a difference.

    Let them be in the context and the education system will fix itself.

  28. Edgar Wai

    (Cont.)

    The current education system has trouble teaching this way because the teachers are too detached from the problems. They are trying to prepare the students for the proverbial “next step”, but they (the teachers) themselves don’t know enough about what the context of that next step is to be a proxy to introduce the students to the real problems people are trying to solve.

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