Several months after my retirement from Education, while idly poking about folders on my hard drive, I came across dozens of documents I had prepared that were related to various aspects of my work as a teacher, curriculum and assessment specialist, high school principal, and state-level bureaucrat. Sifting through them, I felt the need to share those documents that I believed addressed some of the significant reasons why American education reform was failing to meet the needs of those students who most needed a sound education, and I did share via a blog: Education Follies.
In time, I realized that what I needed was not the opportunity to share because I knew little would come of it; instead, I realized I needed to reflect on my career. Education Follies contains selected blog posts and edited historical documents from my personal archives that I assembled, after reflecting upon the over forty years I had spent tilting at educational windmills for no apparent reason. In other words, I compiled this memoir solely for my own edification. It has turned out that I needed to understand what I had experienced and learned over the past four decades, before I could look toward what might be on the horizon.
If you have managed to lay hands on this memoir, I wish you well as you peruse what it contains and hope that you may find things that are enlightening or reinforcing. Underlying it all is my belief that there are no reasonable excuses for failing to teach millions of our children. There are many metrics that certify too many students are not learning to a worrisome degree, and if there is no learning there has been no teaching, just educators tilting at windmills for no apparent reason.
Effective education is not rocket science. There are literally thousands of pieces of research and other sources that tell us what should and can be done to increase student achievement, but as an American Culture, we collectively do not do it. Is it because we lack the shared compassion and will to do the right thing, which is to ensure that all students are provided real opportunities to learn? Or do those in positions of cultural dominance and power just not give a damn about those who are the victims of History? Likely, it is both.
If we are a truly compassionate people who cared about others regardless of their race, ethnic background, or class, if all teachers practiced what we’ve learned about motivation and instruction, if educational leaders cared more about making a difference than they do about making a career, then all children would be receiving the education that American Mother Culture professes is the promise of equality of opportunity. At this moment in our history, that promise is an undeniable and immoral lie for millions of our children.
For additional perspectives on education, check out Jeff's Education and Freedom blog.
The complete edition of Education Follies is available via download below: