Education & The Voice of Quality #asq

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I read Paul Borawski’s latest post regarding education and was overwhelmed with ideas for a response.  And, I’ll admit that I started clack-a-lackin’ on the keyboard immediately… complaining about unions, inadequacies within all levels of administration, poorly trained educators, misallocated funds, etc.  It really was quite a post. But, I deleted it. When everything was said and done, I realized that I was focusing on the micro issues and not necessarily with a global perspective.  My tone shifted.  I started over.

My passion for education reform only surfaced after my child entered the system. I thought I had heard the good, the bad and the ugly… but, it’s really a shocker when you put together the bigger picture and simultaneously realize the current level of dysfunction.  The bigger picture I’m referring to, of course, is understanding the importance of educating our youth so they can make us proud of their contributions to society later in their lives when we need them.  It’s important… it’s a priority. It’s how we can make this world a better place!

Paul mentioned the same thing by noting that “our collective future rests in the hands of children.” Duh, right?  But, if it seems so obvious, then where is the disconnect between this realization and action? I suppose raising the voice of quality throughout the global community certainly isn’t a bad place to start. It would no doubt be a great way to find out what’s working and what’s not.

I do wonder why more institutions of learning aren’t following the lead of those with successful strategies in place.  Is it learned helplessness?  Could it be that each individual feels helpless within a larger system that isn’t setup to accommodate or process information and change effectively?  Whether it’s the politics involved in developed countries or issues of limited resources within third world countries, it comes down to very simple solutions. It starts with making education a priority.  It proceeds with discovering what works and why and then standardizing a successful paradigm that can be incorporated within a variety of environments.

I do think this simple plan of action could yield some pretty amazing results.  But, then Paul asks how do we encourage educators and leaders to join in this “voice of quality” and call for action? To that, I’ve got to say I wish I knew.  My best idea is to follow the model that has proven successful for private industry.  The voice has to be loud from the top… so loud that everyone can hear it and feel the commitment.  Their voice has to be followed up by action to gain momentum.  I think the voice of quality in education needs a little support… a little unification… a little focus.  Just imagine what we can accomplish!

 

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Amber Pond  •  Apr 21, 2011 @4:23 pm

    I agree 100%. Our children are not being made a priority. Instead, budgets and performance numbers (FCAT) are the focus of our elected officials and educators. Nicely said 🙂

  2. James Martin  •  Apr 23, 2011 @1:47 pm

    Ahhh.. Jennifer, I truly feel your angst..:-) Generally speaking we all want you want, but it comes down to specifics. Who is at the “top?” Centralization or decentralization for school systems? Who decides the agenda? Who follows the agenda? What does quality mean in education? How do you measure qualitative goals using quantitative methodologies? Why would people replace a democratic model (public administration) for an authoritarian model (private industry model)? You see, the issue is too much direction comes from the top already, and the parents and teachers do not have enough input. Advocating from the top for education priorities is really not effective unless that leadership listens to all the levels beneath it. I respect your opinions but with all due respect the corporate model of top-down leadership, advocacy, and incentives simply doesn’t work well in a democracy. Schools are a community not a business. Leadership comes from the bottom-up AND the top-down. Its not an either-or dichotomy. Moreover, regarding a general view — the devil’s always in the details…:-)

    I am confident that you’ll be an active and positive participant in the school district and your local school. If you are seeking good leadership in education, you’ll find it in the mirror. Peace~

  3. James Martin  •  Apr 23, 2011 @10:37 pm

    “Paul asks how do we encourage educators and leaders to join in this “voice of quality” and call for action? To that, I’ve got to say I wish I knew. My best idea is to follow the model that has proven successful for private industry. The voice has to be loud from the top… so loud that everyone can hear it and feel the commitment. Their voice has to be followed up by action to gain momentum. I think the voice of quality in education needs a little support… a little unification… a little focus. Just imagine what we can accomplish!”

    You see the thing is Jeb Bush followed this advice. Jeb’s vision of quality in education focused on objective performance indicators of student academic achievement. FCAT means Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Jeb made children a public policy priority. I have no doubt about his sincerity and I am not Republican! Nonetheless, I call ’em as I see ’em. be that as it may, Jeb’s voice was loud …and from the very top … it was followed by lots of grassroots action and gained momentum until it was passed into legislation and incorporated into local school boards.

    I understand Jennifer, that both you and Amber have your hearts in the right place, however, people at the top have to be accountable for budgets and performance because quality does not come on the cheap, and although some people with a business perspective believe in objective assessments to measure performance, quality in education cannot be limited to empirical assessments. For example, what may work in one school environment may not work in another because the student demographics are different, therefore. standardization is not well received by communities, i.e., parents and teachers. We find that our attempts to mass produce quality in education has unintended consequences that undermine our goal of helping children and youth learn. Producing quality in education is truly frustrating, although there are some general structural reforms that seem to make a difference such as those described in the essays on inequality of education in the book “Doing Race.”

    You chose a fascinating topic for discussion and I wish I had an alternative solution to offer but if I did I would be a national hero, like you would be, and we’d have high schools named after us lol. I gues the proper place to begin is exactly what you are doing, opening a discussion on the issue and asking new questions in the quest for realizing new solutions. Hats off to you! Peace always my good friend..:-)

  4. Toni Allardyce  •  May 11, 2011 @1:02 pm

    Jennifer – you have addressed a worlwide issue – education should be a priority to all races and cultures…why is it we have issues today if not for the lack of a good education? governements should be made accountable and administrations held to an actual measure of performance…here in my small community – the teachers were appalled at the requirement to have mandatory provincial testing of the students to measure the general performance of the students to meet a minimal level of passing. The teachers said it put too much “stress” on the students to write the tests- what? Are they afraid this might indicate the teachers didnt do their job?

    Kudos to you Jennifer – make good education a “worldwide” priority and a universal right.

  5. jenn  •  May 13, 2011 @7:11 pm

    In my mind, it seems so common sense that everything starts with education. Along with social responsibility, I can’t think of anything so desperately in need of attention! But, while I feel strongly that the problem is a lack of prioritization, I can’t seem to nail down the specific actions (chain of events) that would kick-start a solution process. I feel like we all do so much talking about the problems within the education systems around the world, but we stop there and can’t seem to unify and get a momentum going for real change and commitment. I’d like to put some thought into a follow-up post that addresses specific actions.

    I agree with you that teachers, unions, administration and other interested parties are very sensitive and resistant to change, and I do think part of that is insecurity relating to how they’re currently doing their job. But, I think we have to stay focused on the bigger picture and take a utilitarian approach. We have to think about the short and long-term effects of a dysfunctional system and do what needs to be done to get on a successful track. It’s the only way future generations will continue to grow and sustain our quality of lives on this planet. 🙂