So, Wisconsin schools are all in danger of failing to meet NCLB achievement criteria! I've been tooting this horn for years. I hope to high Heaven that somebody finally pays attention. Frank Schultz didn't write a sentence in this article that hasn't been shouted from the rooftops (or from this blog) before. It is unconscionable that the powers that be simply kept the status quo, wasting untold millions of dollars and sacrificing thousands of hours of instruction time over the last decade to arrive at the point everyone knew they'd be at today back at the inception of this idiotic NCLB legislation. Now that the rubber is hitting the road and the data back up what anybody with half a brain knew what the outcome would be, suddenly it's all: we need to be excused for our inability to meet criteria that could never have been met in the first place.
Yes, there is an important emphasis on student achievement now. Yes, accountability is coming home to roost. But what is the true impetus of the NCLB legislation? Most notably, students who graduate from high school in our country without even the most rudimentary abilities necessary to function in society, should be at the top of the list of "why we need reform." Are we hopping mad that billions of dollars are wasted every year on an impotent public school system? Of course. Is it a blinking shame that the US has fallen to abysmal levels compared to our world peers in student achievement? Dang right! But a public school system that cannot keep the finger on the pulse of it's customers (those who would employ or take in as secondary students their "product" graduates) is probably first and foremost the causative impelling all the rage.
My observation over time is that schools seem to view the students as their customers. That is not the case. The students are their product. Those who would employ their product are their customers. School administrations take great pride in serving the needs of and protecting the interests of their students. That job belongs to the parents, who are often minimized by district actions while simultaneously being vilified for their lack of participation in their children's school lives. If they would reflect on their attitude towards parents, maybe they will discover why more parents won't step up.
So, how can public schools reform in meaningful ways? They can listen, REALLY LISTEN to what their customers need. Universities need students who are ready to take university level classes, not those who must waste thousands of dollars on course work to bring them up to the university level, which is supposed to be what high school does. Employers need workers with a strong work ethic, who can make change when the computers go down and who understand customers are priority one, not their cell phone conversation or latest utube download. Most of all, society at large needs people who are critical thinkers and who resist group-think mentality. Design an educational curriculum to meet these needs, and you will be successful!