February 2014 Archives

It seems that graduating from high school is no longer the end goal of P-12 learning—earning a college degree has replaced it. By 2018, sixty percent of jobs will require a college degree. On Monday, I wrote about the nationwide average high school graduation rate being 80 percent, which is admirable but also means that at least 1 in 5 kids won't make it to college classes. When you factor in the high school graduates that bypass college completely, it seems that at some point America's workforce will simply not be able to meet the demands of its employers.

The ECDC report recommends that states strengthen their abilities to securely link to student data amongst their schools, and to expand the information that is screened and collected. Some less tangible advice would be for educators and policymakers to realize the value of interconnected student information and begin to consider the true possibilities of combining that knowledge.

I'm a huge fan of comedian Kevin Hart, and Michael B. Jordan, but I tuned in to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game to see someone I admire take the court: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Paying something for a college education is reasonable, I think, but the current setup puts an undue burden on the nation's young people and as a result, the entire economy suffers.

The lifetime earnings numbers show the clear reasons why a particular student benefits from a college degree, but that thought pattern is too narrow. The economy and shared learning of the entire country sees a lift when more if its youth are educated at a college level.

Common Core has certainly changed the K-12 classroom scene in its short implementation and perhaps the group that has suffered the most during the transition period is teachers. In many cases, educators are being asked to accomplish the impossible: prepare students for new test standards without the right training or curriculum to get there.

I also think it is unfair to count on, or to blame, teachers solely for the performance of their students. Yes, they play a role in shaping the young minds in their classrooms and yes, they should be held accountable for that. It seems to me that the root of issues in classrooms that tend to cause the most problems for students (like poverty and ill-equipped or uninvolved parents) should be the target of any true reform.

I've recently delved into The Death and Life of the Great American School by Diane Ravitch. It has been on my reading list for some time now and I finally decided it was time to really give it the attention it deserves. I consider myself an education reformer, and an advocate for reforming the current public school system, so Ravitch's works speak to me, even if I'm not always completely in the same school of thought.

As far as the colleges and universities are concerned, higher accountability should be demanded from educators, students, parents and really any Americans that want the best economy and highest-educated population. Public institutions, in particular, should be subject to restructuring or take over if dropout rates are too high. The lack of delivery on the college degree dream at many of these schools is appalling, frankly, and has gone on long enough.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama brought up the topic of universal Pre-Kindergarten learning and praised the programs already in place in states like Florida, South Carolina and New Jersey. He connected Pre-K initiatives to his Race to the Top program that has the lofty goal of making the U.S. the worldwide leader in college attendees and graduates. His administration contends that the academic skill sets needed to reach that goal must have their foundation before Kindergarten and that the responsibility for that lies in public funding.

Academic dishonesty is nothing new. As long as there have been homework assignments and tests, there have been cheaters. The way that cheating looks has changed over time though, particularly now that technology has made it easier than ever. Perhaps the most interesting caveat of modern-day cheating in U.S. classrooms is that students often do not think that what they are doing is wrong.

If the goal of P-12 education is to prepare students for success in the adult world that follows, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect when a high school diploma is handed over. Students are sent off to college as adults and there is a sharp separation between the support and guidance in all the classrooms they've ever visited and the new ones on the horizon. We seem to assume that our well-educated youth will know exactly how to act on their own when it comes to secondary education. That's a problem.


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