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Sunday
Oct042009

New Post Coming Soon

To my loyal readers:

 

I apologize for not posting in the past few weeks.  After a nearly two month medical situation (not life-threatening), I am now working on a new post and expect to share with all of my readers this week.  Thanks for you support of my insights and I hope you will comment on my writings after you have read them.  I encourage civil discourse both in favor of and in opposition to my points of view.

Stay tuned for the next post.

 

Al Meyers

Friday
Sep042009

Some Inspirational Quotes on Education Before Labor Day

I wanted to give everyone some quotes that will hopefully inspire you and also understand why it is so important to the future of our country that we reinvent our education system to regain our global competitiveness.  Enjoy them, and may you all have a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day holiday weekend.

 

In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.
-- Lee Iacocca

 

Good schools, like good societies and good families, celebrate and cherish diversity.
-- Deborah Meier

 

Humourous:  In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.
-- Mark Twain

 

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
-- W. B. Yeats

The objective of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.
-- Robert Maynard Hutchins

 

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
-- Alec Bourne


Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.
-- Gail Godwin

 

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.
-- Abraham Lincoln

 

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
-- Albert Einstein


All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.
-- John F. Kennedy

 

If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals.

--Susan B. Anthony


Monday
Aug312009

A Logical, Well-Formulated Plan To Maximize The Efficacy Of Stimulus Funds

A few weeks ago, I wrote a very pessimistic blog post that questioned the sanity of introducing the "Race To The Top" fund, which was a bold, aggressive push to tie $4.5 billion of education funding towards adoption of big, potentially controversial strategies for education reform.  While I applaud its intentions, my perspective was molded by the probability that the intense public pressure and complex application requirements would overwhelm the thin, already-overburdened school infrastructure.  In fact, the Gates Foundation has supposedly provided a very large chunk of change to the states in which it has provided previous grants, so that these states can hire consultants to help them complete the required paperwork.

Will the states follow the lead of this bold, aggressive approach and respond with similarly perceived tactical plans?  If they need a crutch, I strongly recommend they work with the Innosight Institute, a think tank powered by the authors of the "education reformers bible", called Disrupting Class:  How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns. In a recent article, the book's authors outline a prescription plan for how to use these scarce funds.  Here are a few tactics which resemble some of the concepts I presented in my 4-part treatise for Reinventing Education (see previous posts on my blog).

  1. Standards & Assessments:  an aggressive push towards a nation-wide set of academic standards  which will help stimulate innovation in the online learning market.  In addition, the standards should be measureable, specifiable and predictable to aid student-centered learning.
  2. Teacher Effectiveness:  Increase student access to the very best teachers through online offerings that transcend geographic boundaries.
  3. Data Collection:  Creative and improving methods for measuring student progress
  4. Struggling Students & Schools:  encourage and incentivize use of online learning options
  5. Fine-tuning the Race to the Top:  consider relaxing use of financial incentives to use of student achievement data by teachers.

There is much insight in this article and I highly recommend you read this wonderfully written article.

If government officials, educators and parents follow just some of the suggestions from the diverse set of "out-of-the-box" thought leaders on the cutting edge of change, then I believe the Department of Education's ambitious plan might yield some positive results where they are sorely needed.

Thursday
Aug202009

Getting to a Set of National Educational Standards for K-12

After a few weeks recuperating from a recent hospitalization, it's good to be back blogging about reinventing education.

 

I recently came across this article about evolving national standards.  As an incremental step, it certainly has merit.  The proposal is to do this in the renewal of the NCLB, and take into account not only the percentage of students meeting a proficiency benchmark, but also student's yearly academic gains, so that even states with very low standards would be incentivized to take measures to improve the education they offer. 

This is an intereting short-term approach, but at its core, it seems to maintain the state-developed set of academic standards.  As painful and/or disruptive as it may be in the short-term, we need ONE set of standars and allow all states the autonomy to adminster them.  Why can't the American people realize that it is preposterous for 50 states to have 50 standards.  Let the National Governor's Association at least try to develop common standards first.  It would be a shining example of democracy at work.  I'm not suggesting we should all expect success, but lets at least try to be hopeful, as it was a long-awaited positive step for our education system.  They just have to move fast, and I'm not sure that's a viable option.

 

Friday
Aug072009

A Great Friday Quote Of Inspiration About Education

I just read this quote from John Wooden, arguably the most successful coach in sports history.  It came from an unknown poet and was given to John from his father:

 

No written word or spoken plea

Can teach our youth what they should be.

Nor all the books on all the shelves

It's what the teachers are themselves.

 

Thanks to all of my readers for their continued support of my blog.