Actually it should go what, when, where, why, and how…. Today’s blog is about the what. What is the subject? High school reform! That is what! From Breaking Ranks: Data Driven Model High School reform:
For more than 100 years, our high schools met the workforce needs of an industrial society by organizing learning around a curriculum delivered in standardized time periods called Carnegie Units. Within this structure, curriculum was defined as a set of units, sequences, and facts. Credentials (Carnegie Units) were based on “time served,” and the failure of significant numbers of students was not only accepted, but also regarded as an expected result of norm-referenced testing. For the most part, this system of education prepared generations of high school students to find their place in American society. Where it did not, the economy had a place for people who were willing to work hard even if they lacked basic skills or formal schooling. The opportunities and demands of today’s society are different. Conditions of secondary education that allow high school students to leave school without developing essential competencies or ever being challenged to fulfill their potential are no longer acceptable. Educational failure and undeveloped talent are permanent drains on society, and the current reform movement has shifted the emphasis from access for all to high-quality learning for all (Lachat, 1994).
Although the problem is more complex than “conditions have changed so we must change,” the call for change is much warranted! There are many issues to consider. Teacher quality, curriculum alignment, problem based learning, student engagement, technology, dropout prevention, credit recovery, quality advisement, parent and community involvement, and so the list goes on and on. So many questions to be answered. Where do we start to make our high school a better place to prepare our students for their future? I think we need to start with our community. We need to engage all of the people who stand to benefit from a high quality local education system. We need them to define what they want from their local high school and get them involved in the process of making it what they want. Involvement will bring a sense of ownership and with that ownership will come pride in a job well done and a willingness to work to make things better. Energy spent criticizing can be spent working for a positive outcome. So many communities have great pride in their schools. Paris should have the same. As we put together our new cooperative high school we need to engage parents, businesses, industry, and community members in the process of defining our mission and setting a vision for the future of high school education in Paris. Keep your eyes open and your ears peeled, we are going to be having several public meetings in the near future regarding setting goals and defining what we want Paris High School to be.