Why do we need an educational revolution in the United States? Many students receive the necessary tools to overcome struggles in public education by the support of parents, teachers and interventions. There are a great number of students who do not receive additional support for whatever reason. This fact needs to change very rapidly.
According to The Multi-Sensory Classroom (Aug. 2004): “Each child develops sensory/motor preskills at a very young age (e.g., auditory processing, fine and gross motor skills, visual perception, reflexes, tactile processing, sensory modulation). These bottom levels of sensory/motor development are often taken for granted because they are basic and develop automatically in the typically developing child. When we teach a student at school, the child uses these sensory/motor preskills as a foundation for learning. Children in whom these preskills have not fully developed find learning difficult if not impossible; they become our struggling or special-needs children. Without the appropriate developmental foundation, they cannot build the abstract thinking skills we try to teach them in school. “
Students may struggle in an educational setting, and it may not be obviously apparent why the struggle exists. An educator’s deepest desire is to assist kids to overcome their challenges. This, in turn, produces more well-rounded, self-sufficient, educated people as citizens for our county.
Through the years, many have tried to reform education from the inside out. It has not worked. Catch phrases of items that would solve the education problem can be strung together in a timeline a mile long. Past educational catch phrases could include: whole language only, no child behind, phonics only, silent sustained reading, standard based education, school choice, mainstreaming, standardize testing, parental involvement and English only. The point is something new and innovative must take place for education to make real changes.
Let’s examines the test scores for the high school exit exam for California. According to the California Department of Education’s data for July of 2008, 13,237 students took the Math portion of the California Exit Exam and 13, 373 students took the English portion of the exam. Twenty-nine percent of the students passed the math and 30% passed the English portions of the test for the state. That means that 9,423 students failed the math and 9,420 failed the English! Holy Smoke!
The community has to take action in the field of reforming our current system. In the media, much is stated about education; common topics are more qualified teachers and incentives. In late February, the New York Times ran an advertisement from the President of America Federation of Teachers (Week in Review section on page 5). The name of the article, which was really an advertisement, was titled, “What Matters Most: Words into Action.” In the ad-like article the president, Randi Weingarten explains this problem in education, “For too long and too often, teacher evaluation – in both design and implementation – has failed to achieve what must be our goal: continuously improving and informing teaching so as to better educate all students.” She goes on to give an example from Colorado of the school board and teacher union working together. At the end she says that school board members, teachers, union leaders all feel the same way; they want what’s best for the kids. The article was about working relationships in these difficult financial times. Maybe that needs to be the focus for the advertisement-that educational higher-ups and teachers’ unions do not need to eat each other alive so they can eventually help kids. However, our students are failing right now and don’t have time to miss several years of learning because people who make a lot of money can’t get along. We are talking about kids’ futures here.
Let’s quit talking about the infomercial brand of education-the kind that keeps promising that magic elixir, yet the product is just so-so. The real conversation needs to be around the individual differences of students or their learning styles and needs. Administrators, school boards, teachers and all school staff members need to be trained in how to recognize a struggling student’s needs: emotionally, developmentally and physically. They also need to know how to build or recognize curriculum for these needs and drive the curriculum based on assessment data, not a hunch or a feeling. Public education cannot fix it all; it’s not a one-stop shop. Let’s be honest, students come to school with all kinds of issues, and as a whole we cannot ignore the numbers. Our students in this state are not making the cut. Our interventions are not making the cut. Identifying students’ needs is not based on each student’s individual differences or assessments, yet blanket interventions are thrown on major problems. That is why we need an Educational Revolution.