"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Writing on the Wall

The thing about writing on a wall is that everyone can see it, but most people are so busy getting to their destinations, they don't stop to read it. That's too bad, because sometimes there is really useful information on that wall.

Kirkwood recently sent out a survey to the district asking for public input to their strategic plan. The survey asked people to rank the priority of these goals:
  • Provide students with multiple opportunities to participate in clubs and extracurricular activities.
  • Provide up-to-date computers and other educational technology
  • Offer a challenging curriculum
  • Provide staff with the training to use innovative strategies to help students achieve academic excellence
  • Create individualized learning opportunities for all students
  • Keep facilities up-to-date and current to support the District’s curriculum objectives
  • Provide full day, tuition-free kindergarten
  • Provide a safe and welcoming school environment
  • Provide the opportunity for students to learn about and appreciate global culture
  • Include families in the education and decision-making process
  • Engage the community and alumni in working with the District to seek alternative private fundraising sources
  • Build student's social skills so they can make meaningful contributions to their community
  • Provide online learning opportunities for students
  • Collect and analyze student data to maximize instruction to meet the unique needs of each student
  • Provide Character Education programs for students
Those who have been reading the walls recognize much of this plan. It's genesis is not the Kirkwood School Board. These came from RTTT.

  • Global and character education (the socialization of children and recognition of themselves as global citizens),
  • A computer for every child (to accommodate common core assessments),
  • Expanded Early Learning programs (tuition free kindergarten)
  • On-line learning (to satisfy the mandate for more virtual learning)
  • Assure a "welcoming" environment (e.g. anti-bullying, GLSEN curriculum)
  • Implement a statewide longitudinal data system
Good to know Kirkwood recognizes some of what is coming inexorably down the pike for them. Hopefully they know the other pieces from the wall that are coming too. Maybe the School Board there (and in other districts looking to adopt the same goals) should respond as to how they plan to accommodate these other requirements of RTTT:

Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals - Your best teachers may be pulled to go to a struggling district. How will you compensate for that? Teachers - How will you handle this involuntary transfer?

Building strong statewide capacity to implement, scale up, and sustain proposed plans - The RTTT only gives a single grant. Districts will have to find the money to continue any programs started under RTTT. How will you fund these after the grant dries up?

Developing and adopting common standards - What role do you actually see yourself having in determining curriculum once you have signed on to CCCS? How will you fund the retraining of your staff to teach these standards?

Making education funding a priority - Currently the state spends over 50% of its annual budget on education. There is no other single line item that comes close to that ratio. If we already think we do not fund education enough, how much will we need to pay to demonstrate that we have made it a "priority?"

The other problem with graffiti on a wall is that it is often hard to get rid of. Even when you try to paint over it, it keeps bleeding through.

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