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Want High Standards? Don't Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Who's responsible for low standards for students? Policymakers. School administrators. Teachers. Parents. Students themselves. All of the above.

Well, after watchingThe Wizard of Oz with my kids, I'm thinking it's the not so wonderful Wizard's fault. Check out this clip of new graduate Scarecrow butchering a math formula (and be sure to play it softly, since Pythagoras will turn over in his grave if he hears it):

Unfortunately, Emerald City isn't the only place where diplomas are doled out to students who haven't learned much. As I wrote in a previous post, Graduation or Dropping Out: What's the Difference?, the failure of our education system isn't just reflected in high school dropout rates. It's also reflected in post-secondary dropout rates--i.e., students who "earn" high school diplomas but can't cut it in college or the workplace.

The scene from Oz may be fantasy, but it also provides a timely reality check and reminder for the new school year:

We must establish and uphold high standards for ourselves and students. Anything less undermines our professionalism and students' potential.

Let's rededicate ourselves this year to helping students navigate the road to real success. It's a road that's sure to have many bumps, curves, and dips, but we and our students can handle it ... as long as it doesn't have yellow bricks.

Now let's set Scarecrow straight. Here's what he said:

The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.

And here's what he should have said:

For any right triangle, the sum of the squares of the lengths of the legs is equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse.

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