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Education Reform

Conditions for Change

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There have been many books and articles written on the theory of change but since we live a result oriented world, how do we practically get through it?  The world of education is not immune to the ever-growing pressure to change.  In fact, we may be at the very heart of it.  According to the latest Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) rankings, American students scored 32nd in math ability and 23rd in science achievement.  With more and more rankings, reports, and achievement data pointing to the fact that America’s educational system is in decline, one has to ask how can we turn it around.  Currently, the debate is center on education reform.  Some experts speak of the need for broad sweeping reform, while others lean toward shifting the focus to more economic growth and development.  Regardless of where you stand on reform, one thing rings true.  We have to change.  That is not to simplify the magnitude of the needed change.  After all, we have data supporting the need for change in our teacher recruitment & retention, curriculum focus, instructional practice, teacher evaluation, and assessment & accountability.  My goal with this blog post is to begin taking a look at the conditions needed for changing our instructional practices in the classroom.

We have to educate our way to a better economy. We have a 25 percent drop out rate in this country. We’re losing about a million children each year from our schools to the streets. That’s just economically unsustainable and morally unacceptable and we all have to work together and challenge the status quo.— Arne Duncan

When I am working with teachers to help them improve their effectiveness in the classroom it is easy to underestimate what conditions are necessary for change to take place.  In Jim Knights book Instructional Coaching, he describes two conditions necessary for ideas introduced to survive and be implemented. He states that  (1) the teacher must see that the new choice is more powerful than their current practice; and (2) the new choice must be easier for the teacher to implement.  In addition, I have noticed that when I have been successful at motivating a teacher to try a new practice, I was deliberate about how I demonstrated my support for them while provided implementation the new practice.   After ensuring the conditions for change are in place I had to have a realistic expectation about the time it takes for this process to take place.  Nothing can be taken for granted about the different backgrounds, experiences, and understanding of each individual teacher being asked to change.  Now, this is where the fun begins. 

 

Education Reform

Does race matter in education?

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Color Blindness
In today’s politically correct world, it is hard to call it like it is.  This is especially true when it comes to race and culture. The term “color blind” or the statement ” I don’t see race” is actually contributing to many of our racial problems today. We have to rise above the fear of ignorance and start becoming racially aware or culturally educated. This would allow us to recognize the God designed difference in the races as a good thing, not something of shame and regret.

So what does this have to do with reverse racism in schools? Well if we can not have the right perspective on who and what we are, how will we ever be able to recognize the hypocrisy and racial ignorance we perpetuate in our educational system today.  Far too often we simply let racial injustices go uncontested in the spirit of tolerance (often times this is code for fearfulness). I never realized how this way of thinking was actually a perversion of the true perspective of race. We also have to stop acting like racism is the same as prejudice. Every human being has prejudices, it is a part of human nature to make inferences or to develop beliefs before knowing. In fact, we have to learn how to go against the tendency to prejudge.  Racism, on the other hand, is totally different.  To develop racism takes a cocktail of ignorance, pain & frustration, confusion, and perversion.  No one race or ethnic group is immune to the destructive influence of racism. As long as we are human, there will be someone hating and trying to bring down another.  Let’s strive to truly open our minds to the pervasiveness of racist views throughout this world and seek real tolerance by asking God for the courage to confront the roots of these unjust views wherever they occur.