Speaking of quality and education…

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Education has been on my mind lately.  As I’m sitting here going over the volunteer information for Junior Achievement next week, I’m also thinking about questions recently posed on View from the Q.

For Junior Achievement, I’m beyond excited to visit my son’s 4th grade class for a few days to discuss entrepreneurship, resources and regional/world trade topics. In this package of fun stuff I received, paid for via a grant, there are games and various activities that really engage the students about these important topics.  I get a few hours with them each day for three days.

Also, my son recently took a field trip to see the Florida Orchestra and will visit the most historic part of Tampa, Ybor City, later this week.  I have personally coordinated a Manufacturing Day event for October and Hour of Code event in December.  Thanks to an amazing principal and parental involvement, our public elementary school is kind of amazing.  Between Run Club and Chess, my son also has an incredible number of after-school activities to choose from.

So, why am I the first person to say that public education is the number one problem facing this nation?  That’s a good question… It’s one my son will also be considering as they recently announced this year’s FIRST LEGO League robotics team theme as World Class: Learning Unleashed. As part of this competition, his team will need to develop an innovative solution to address how kids around the world learn. This type of public/private arrangement is a beautiful thing, similar to what Middleton High and HP have achieved via their STEM initiatives as a more local example. Consistent to other success stories, the principal here is outstanding.

View From the Q is asking a few questions this month that help narrow down this larger than life issue facing society:

Do you see a correlation between the quality of education in your country and the young people entering the workforce?

I do see this.  I see first-hand how frustrated K-12 teachers are.  I see students giving up too easy and not being as driven to succeed.  I see mediocrity as being more acceptable, and that’s a big problem when you’re talking about competing in global markets.  We need more than a handful of kids to leave school ready to innovate and/or otherwise productively contribute to society. We also fail at directing our future workforce into high-demand industries they show aptitude for.  With that, we end up with gaps that hinder progress.  I hate to even mention that we continue to pay more per student and see decreases in performance results (quality metrics).

Does your culture celebrate success or is any attempt considered “good enough”?

I would say culture in the United States celebrates success, but “participation” is becoming more and more acceptable as well.

What is the role of quality in improving public education in any nation?

Quality is the key to improving public education in any nation.  We just need to apply the same principles we do to other industries.  We need to objectively and thoroughly evaluate what’s working and what’s not working, develop a strategy and subsequent action items (using benchmarks) that are expected to address specific issues and then continuously evaluate those actions against pre-defined objectives.  If it’s not working, figure out why and either fix it or come up with something new. That’s quality!

At the end of the day, we have to have a way to comparatively evaluate students in the United States to other countries.  I’m not against standardized testing, but there are obvious problems with how we’re currently doing things.

We need to continuously improve our education system to increase efficiency and quality of learning.  We must reconnect students with hands-on, passionate teachers and ignite that spark of interest in the learning process so that students are driven to succeed and have a sense of pride in their successes.

I argue that the issues we face in education today will result in considerably negative effects in the near future.  Quality in, quality out.

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