January 16, 2012

Dear Readers,

Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day.   I apologize for so few blog entries in the past month.  I have been dealing with some health issues that have stopped me in my tracks from doing anything creative.  Hopefully, I’ll start percolating soon :)

In honor of MLK Jr. Day, I thought I’d write about “MY Dream”.  There is a saying in education- “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll always get, what we always got.”  We have to change the way we teach children.  When education first came into being it was more like one of our first toys- sorting shapes into various holes and filling a plastic house for our shapes.  Look how far our games have come in our lifetime.  Yet, education in some cases education hasn’t changed much from our first toy.  I urge all educators to read one of two books, I promise they will both excite you and give you ideas for your dream of changing education.  Both books give examples of schools that have already made these changes.  No excuses- no “Yeah..buts”.

Book Number One:  Whatever it Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn  – here’s the link on Amazon so you can read about it:  http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Takes-Professional-Learning-Communities/dp/1932127283/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1326730380&sr=8-6

Book Number Two:  Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap: Whatever It Takes- here’s the link on Amazon so you can read about it:  http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Bar-Closing-Gap-ebook/dp/B003JH8TPO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1326730380&sr=8-5

If we don’t change how we are doing education these are the cold hard facts.  If you take this years Kindergarten class- here are their statistics:

Out of every 100 students:

  • 70 of them will graduate from high school
  • 48 of those 70 will pursue higher education
    • 29 will enroll in a four year college
    • 19 will enroll in a two year community college
  • 16 of the 48 will require remedial courses in college because they did not master the skills in K-12
  • 6 of the 19 students who enrolled in community college will earn an associate degree within 3 years
  • 12 of the 29 students who enrolled in a four year college will earn a bachelor’s degree within five years of entering college

These are from the second book above.  Are we happy with these results?  18 students total out of every 100 will earn an advanced degree post high school.  In the 1950’s, it was easier to compete for a job without a college diploma.  To compete in today’s world our children need a college diploma.

In 2008, 1.23 million students dropped out of high school in the United States- the equivalent of one student every 26 seconds.  (Swanson, 2008)

From DuFour’s books we learn this:  A High School drop-out will earn 32 cents for every dollar a college graduate will earn and 66 cents for every dollar a high school graduate will earn.

Back to my thoughts and my dreams.  Many times when I am working with a large group of teachers someone will say to me “I shouldn’t have to do anything – those kids know what to do.  They should just come to school and be good and turn in their work. They should just give me their very best.”  Then I go out and visit schools as an observer and I sit in on classes.  I have to tell you sometimes I personally have the hardest time staying awake in some of the classes I visit because Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is reading or having struggling readers read out loud sentence after sentence and the others are expected to follow along.  Then the teacher says “Answer questions 1-5.”  You can just see the shoulders sagging in the students because it’s what they do every day.  Listen to drones reading out loud and answering questions like the text book is the curriculum.  I’m not saying this happens in all classes- but I do find it funny or odd that the very people who would send a kid to the office for not having a pencil and being prepared…..come to my seminars without pens, or a notepad, or forget to turn their cell phones off.

My dream is that WE do our very best and WE give our very best and WE do “whatever it takes” to help ALL kids succeed.  WE won’t let them fail.    My dream is that all school personnel will read the two books above and start doing the steps outlined in the books.  There are NO excuses.  We can change.  We can quit doing what we’ve always done.  We can get different results.  I already work with some great schools who now have zero students failing zero classes because they implemented the ideas in these books.  It can be done.  I challenge you to dream.

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