An Education Revolution Manifesto, Prologue

ImageThis week is spirit week at my high school. We have a big football game this weekend, and to build school unity teachers and students have themed dress-up days. Today was superhero day. I wore my decade-old Superman shirt.

After school, I began sharing some ideas with a colleague, ideas about how and why standardized teaching must change.  The conversation excited me into frenzy, which I guess isn’t difficult since I am passionate about fixing public education. During our conversation, he said perhaps we need an education revolution. My excitement reached a new register. I had been sharing the #edrev idea on Twitter, among like-minded education reformers, but I was not sure many others felt as I did.

I tried to maintain my enthusiasm long enough to explain I had been trying to get support for such a movement. Through my excitement, my colleague looked at my shirt and said, “You’re Superman. Why don’t you fix it?”

I alone cannot fix the system. If that were possible, teachers before me would have made more significant impact. However, in the past three months my baptism into social media in education has given me hope. If educators around the country could join together through social media and create a platform for change, perhaps state and national legislatures would listen.

Our educational system is in need of desperate repair, reform, overhaul, revolution… call it what you will. I am positive if changes are not made, the coming generations of Americans will be ill equipped to handle the challenges of collaboratively leading a world that protects liberty and guarantees freedom to all.

Are you on board? What changes could we make? What areas need immediate or long-term change? What impact could we make tomorrow, next month, or in a year?

In coming posts, I will outline a few ideas I feel passionately about, beginning with standardized testing; passive, lecture-based education; and a lack of relevance of today’s curriculum to the students. I do not have the scholarship to lead all these discussions, but I hope through a collaborative effort we can coalesce behind a common platform of ideas to begin educational change immediately.  We need our voices to join together to enact change.

My oldest son started Kindergarten this year. I do not want him to be part of an educational system which forces standardization to a common mediocrity. I want all children to personalize their learning. I want teachers to maintain a high level academic quality in their schools. I want students to be problem-identifiers AND problem-solvers.

Without these changes, I believe we are doomed to live in a mediocrity that public education seems to promote.

*The views above are mine, not those of my employer, just so we are clear.


12 thoughts on “An Education Revolution Manifesto, Prologue

  1. Becky Lyons October 20, 2012 / 2:52 am

    You have crystallized all the thoughts that have been racing through my head since this school year started.

    This insanity cannot be allowed to continue.

    • Justin Staub, Ed.D. October 21, 2012 / 7:13 pm

      Excellent. I am not the author of these ideas, just the current voice. I am not alone, and you have testified! The common link, though, is a call to action. If we can all move in the same direction- WATCH OUT!

  2. Amy Salinger October 20, 2012 / 7:14 am

    I’m in! This is something I am passionate about.


  3. Malisa Bright (@MathDifferently) October 20, 2012 / 9:47 am

    We were baptized in social media about the same time. And if I responded to this before school started, I’d have responded very differently. But I am so disheartened by the things I hear at school–often for the people who I have, in the past, had the most respect for. I will not quote the words that I have echoing in my head that I’ve heard site colleagues say over the past week that have made me cringe.

    While I thought, before the school year started, the changes I’ve made would be something that others would get excited about and jump on board with. That has not been my experience. At least not yet. Maybe it’s because they’re afraid? Maybe it’s because it’s not proven yet? Maybe it’s because they’re mostly hearing about things via uncomfortable, frustrated students? I’m pretty sure many of them think I’ve just gone off the deep end. Not having done all the reading, watching, attending conferences etc., I’m sure it just seems like I’m pulling this stuff out of my hat on my own on a whim.

    I’ve realized that all I can do what I feel is best and remain committed in the face of negativity (and probably behind my back ridicule). And to be reflective and flexible. I need to latch on to the positives that I see and do my best to turn around the not-so-positives.

    The classroom is really a metaphor (might be using that wrong…I teach math) for the educational community at large. You get buy in from one, then another, then…hopefully you get critical mass at some point. Just keep swimming and all that.

    • Justin Staub, Ed.D. October 21, 2012 / 7:16 pm

      Malisa, I am sorry you are fighting a difficult battle. This will not be easy, but I cannot think of a revolution that was. Heck, most reforms are difficult too, if the reform is more than just a relabeling of the existing ideas (happens too much in education). Stick it out. You have allies on this front!

  4. Becky Lyons October 21, 2012 / 4:03 am

    I love my job and I love my students and my colleages and where I work. I even think I am paid well for what I do, although I also have 19 years experience and a Masters degree plus 30.

    The problem is, it is physically impossible to do the work of 3 or 4 full time jobs during the 24 hours a day and 7 days a week that we all are given. Doesn’t matter how enthusiastic I am or how much I am paid. There just isn’t enough time.

    I’m trying very hard to like what my job has become. I really am. However, I have unfortunately figured out that all my job consists of these days is simply proving that I am doing my job. Read that last sentence again: My job is to prove that I am doing my job. Nothing more.

    It is no longer about the kids and helping them become thinkers, innovators, and future leaders and good citizens. It is about providing money and jobs for software, textbook, and test publishers. These giant corporations have found the one common thread that exists in every community: schools. So now they are exploiting schools and America’s students through a national government intiative that will cause billions of dollars to pour into their companies from every community in the nation, except from the two states smart enough and wealthy enough to not have to buy into it.

    I am a 19-year veteran who is planning her exit from the profession. Yes, even my retirement and love of what the profession is supposed to be are not enough to make me stay. What we are being forced to do to these students is morally wrong and I can not and will not continue to be a participant. Besides, I am tired of sacrificing my own sanity and health for a rigorous schedule of data generation, collection, and analyzation that is pretty much useless.

    I can’t change it alone and I certainly can’t change it from the inside. Time to save myself.

    • Justin Staub, Ed.D. October 21, 2012 / 7:19 pm

      Becky, I am sorry to hear you are so disheartened. You do need to take care of yourself before tending to others. Whatever your passion, follow it. If you can affect educational reform (or revolution) from any angle, parent, community-member, teacher, etc., then the effort is not lost.

      • Becky Lyons October 22, 2012 / 12:19 am

        I am totally on board to participate in a reform or revolution to change what is happening. .I will be following this blog so I can be involved in it. Even if it doesn’t change in time for me to remain in my career, I still plan to be active. This issue has sort of become my passion, oddly enough.

  5. Claudia November 5, 2012 / 1:40 pm

    I don’t think the powers that be will allow anything to change to be honest. They profit from a dumbed-down, ignorant workforce. Think about it. There are much bigger forces going on in public education than any of us realize. It is the way it is ON PURPOSE.

    • Justin Staub, Ed.D. November 6, 2012 / 8:42 am

      Claudia, I only agree in part. I agree that current powers that exist in the educational bureaucracy need to change. Their minds will not change, so it is time for them to change. I do not agree in some subversive plan to keep people in their place.

      I believe we live in a democracy where we can make a difference with our voice. Through coordinated action and public presence, I feel teachers can impact our educational system. Any thought otherwise is too bleak for me.

      I will admit I am very optimistic (perhaps blindly optimistic).

      Thanks for your comment.

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