Sunday, April 19, 2009

President Obama, Where's the Change in K-12 Education?

On March 11, 2009, President Obama spoke of his proposed overhaul of American education from “cradle to career”. I have waited for several weeks to see to what extent he was going to recognize the need for structural and organizational change of public education.

Proposals for change since March 11th have included longer school days and a longer school year, options which he recognizes as being unpopular. The only reference to organizational/structural change has been in his push for “innovation and excellence” by renewing his campaign pledge to support charter schools. He has called for States to lift caps on the number of charter schools operating within state lines. As stated in my last post, '[t]here is no reason that we cannot encourage public schools to have the same liberties as their charter school counterparts'.

The President has recognized that the current educational system is based on a model that is no longer appropriate -- yet the proposed ideas maintain this system. The President's ideas proposed thus far still hold students to a fixed time schedule; still assume that children of the same age learn at the same pace and in the same style during a given period of time; and, rather than use tests as diagnostic tools, tests continue to be used as summative tools that punish children who have not achieved what was expected during fixed time periods through selected methodologies.

What I propose is the use of technology in a computer assisted mode (CAI) to track the progress of each student. When each has demonstrated mastery of what s/he has learned through CAI, we then can seek validation through State-implemented examinations. In this way, time is varied and competency relatively fixed; a standard that should be applied to public schools as well as charter schools, so that all children will be given similar opportunities to succeed.


Anonymous Jay LaBonte said...

Dr. Fischler I couldn't agree more. My son has been diagnosed with a specific learning disability and has a difficult time learning in the same manner as the rest of the students in his class. The public school system could only offer limited assistance. I have since placed him in a special school designed for his particular issue. This school recognizes that each student learns differently and and a different pace. The public shool system and FCAT testing simply pserved as a tool to punish his efforts and demoralize his spirit making that much more difficult for him to learn, or want to learn.

I have had countless discussion as to the upside down use of standardized testing. I so beleive standardized testing is needed, to understand the level at which a student is learning, not to punish the student by labeling him or her as being behind or at a lower level, but to understand how specific teaching methods are working and to adjust those methods if needed.

I think it is time that a new model be created from the ground up. I would welcome seeing such a school created that has abandon the "Old School" methods and is at the cutting edge of education.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Jim Goodell said...

The medical industry provides good examples for K-12 of how organizational/structural change, along with technology utilization, can optimize individualize care.

My recent visit to the emergency room was an eye-opener, as documented in my blog here: Emergency Room Visit...Lessons for Education

4:19 PM  

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