Four Areas of Reform

In the past month, Secretary Duncan has delivered four speeches detailing ED policy related to four areas of reform.

The goals are to improve standards and tests, the effectiveness of teachers, data to inform educators’ decisions, and low-performing schools. States had to address these issues and inform the department of their progress to receive funding from the $48.6 billion available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. In the months ahead, as states compete for $4.35 billion available under the Race to the Top Fund, their applications will be evaluated based on their assurances on those four reforms.

Here are the speeches. Secretary Duncan talked about the need to…

ED Staff


  1. Our children are continually tested from the moment they enter pre-K until they they graduate from high school. Everything they do is a test – homework, classwork, projects, quizzes pop-quizzes, tests, presentations, midterms, finals, and mandated testing, etc. Typically, students may be given two or three quizzes or tests every week, but testing can be more frequent. Two weeks ago my youngest – a freshman in high school had 7 quizzes and tests over 4 days, along with a presentation. Quizzes last for about 20 to 45 minutes, tests are generally 60 to 80 minutes long, presentations can eat up one or two classes, while midterms, finals and mandated tested are usually held over a one to two week period. If you do the math you will quickly realize that the amount of time spent testing is huge. How much time is actually left for teaching and learning? Education appears to be more concerned with the amount of material covered rather than quality. With quizzes mid chapter and tests at the end of each chapter only short-term memory is tested. Even midterms and finals tend to focus on recently covered material rather than that covered in the long-term. Students are also told exactly what to do step by step. Independent learning without a rubric is not often encouraged. This carries over to college where students expect to be told what to do. The constant testing also creates the mentality where the joy of learning is lost, it is no longer about exploring the topic in depth, but rather about the grade. As high school grades are seen by colleges, students become fearful of doing badly in any graded piece of work that they are given, there is no down time and the stress produced is huge. What of the child who is sick and misses school or the child with problems at home? missing school can come with a price – a lot of work to be made up, more than many students will be prepared to do. These problems carry over into college as many incoming freshman are drained and exhausted by the the system. According to friends who are college professors incoming students have great difficulty functioning independently, everything has to be done for a grade, and they expect to be told exactly what to do.

    All of this differs markedly with the system that I grew up with in Europe. We had a National exam system which went well beyond multiple choice. In fact, multiple choice did not play a role in those exams. Students were expected to be able to explore a subject in depth, to argue, compare, contrast debate, to go beyond the textbook particularly in honors (equivalent to AP or IB here in the US). Testing at other times was very limited with exams in December and June and little in-between. Students were not spoon-fed and independent learning was the norm, not the exception. With only three levels – honors. standard (a higher level than US college preparatory) and remedial more students were pushed to challenge themselves instead of coast. We had question choice on many of the exams and many subjects to choose from. We entered college very much prepared to work and study independently.

  2. -My wife is a Math Teacher for 43 yrs.
    Her experience in education is unic.
    She was on TV when she got the Crystal Apple award.
    -Because she is very modest person,she doesn’t tell to much about her methods in teaching science.
    -For our country’s interest,somebody from the Department
    of Education should contact her,because her experience
    would benefit for the next step of government program
    in the education field.

  3. Here is a perfect example of what we are talking about… with over 4 billion dollars being shipped out to my state here in California, this is the result your rubber tax dollars are paying for… (directly from this webiste)

    Real Results in California:
    In San Diego, a group of elementary school teachers whose jobs were eliminated will receive stimulus dollars to enroll at a local university for a master’s degree in special education. Teachers who complete the program will then commit to teaching in a special education assignment for the next three years.

    …so how about impacting some kids lives who need a new desk to write on, or pencils, or new light bulbs in their classroom.

    Is the priority REALLY children or is it JOBS…?

  4. To start and stop on point number 1… “adopt rigorous standards”. The problem with education in America is twofold.

    1) complacent parents
    2) the Public Education System (or “unions”)

    Parents don’t care about their children, they just want a free baby sitter. Parents don’t help their kids with home work, they don’t support schools, they won’t turn the TV off long enough for their kids to focus on one piece of paper. Besides, to be honest, many children don’t live with both parents anyway, if either one. Kids have no respect, teachers have been robbed of their authority to lead the classrooms in disciplined environments.

    If any of you reading this think that the American public education system is NOT in shambles, it’s time to get your head out of the sand. Our kids (I should say “your” kids… I not only pay taxes for someone else’s children to go to public school, but I pay OUT OF MY OWN POCKET an additional $6,000.00 a year for my FOUR children to attend a private school…. A Private school where I know all four of my kids will get a better education IN THE 9TH GRADE than 99% of the rest of American public school children will get- including your AP and Honors students. By the way, AP and Honors students are nothing special, in fact they are merely at the level where ALL children ought to be at through their entire education. Compare that to the $10,000.00 to $20,000.00 the government/unions spend on ONE child PER YEAR. So, how is it that a classroom is budgeted around $300,000.00 a year, and yet students don’t have textbooks, air conditioning or paper…???) Anyway, our kids, have become excuses for jobs by the unions.

    [By the way, most of my children’s teachers have no “formal” teaching training, curriculum, institutes, conferences, seminars, college, university, fellowships, doctorates, degrees or certificates… and I still trust them more than any teacher with any or all of the forementioned. My children’s education speaks for themselves. As an example, last year my 4 year old son, started reading a book which written nearly 400 years ago. So, why is it that most head start or pre-K children can’t even read CHILDREN’s books…?]

    Go ahead read any of the formal speeches, or articles on benchmarks or standards on this or any other public education website. You will be hard pressed to find ANY statement regarding the specific education or fundamental literacy well being of a student or child. What you will find are dozens of references to “keeping jobs”, “maintaining job”, “training children” or “securing jobs”. Why does the NEA want to increase education spending by 50% (another $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 per child!?!?). $10,000.00 is not enough to teach a child basic arithmetic skills and the ability to read and write? Why do new textbooks have to be printed every 1-3 years? We have handfuls of $1.00 used bookstores and thrift stores in our neighborhood with plenty of books for kids to read. And paper, how much does paper cost, $1.00 maybe $2.00 for 100 sheets? When will we realize that money is not the problem?

    So, to talk about standards is just that… talk. No real standards will be implemented. If children’s education were really as important to THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION is “they” say it is, then, the union contracts would be burned… TOMORROW MORNING.

    Also, standards cannot be applied if the home (“parents”) does not support them. The school cannot raise America’s children. The school can influence children, and it does that just fine, in fact that is exactly what it is doing right under the noses of complacent parents.

    So, try this standard… stop pushing students through the system who cannot pass the class or grade they are in. Try letting teachers teach. Fire lazy tenured teachers. Fire lazy tenured teachers. Fire lazy tenured teachers. Cut district administrations by at least 50%. Put that money back in the classes. Expel, unruly students, send them back home to their parents to find another baby sitter. Stop lowering formal graduation testing standards by adding more testing, playing with statistics isn’t fooling anyone, if the kids can’t read and write, and the rest of the students aren’t graduating, big numbers don’t matter to anyone except big union and big bureaucracy who are trying to justify their jobs when they are failing children.

    So, before we can even look at these “Four Areas of Reform”, not to mention the first states standards, how about we get concerned with the three basics like Reading, Writing, and Math…

    Otherwise, you might as well flush the toilet on your kids.

  5. Carmen is right on.We the people are sick of being the scapegoat for your failed experiments with our liberty.We want our money back and we want to send our kids to schools who compete for the money,by being the best.
    The NEA IS the problem.

  6. Today’s second graders are learning academic standards that I taught to fifth grade students just a few years ago. They are learning more than ever before, and we have much to be proud of.
    Unfortunately, education is part of a POLITICAL system in our country. That means those with no experience in the field, outdated experience, and/or conflicting agendas, are in charge of making the decisions. Funding is unequal, inconsistent, and not granted based on need. The money that is received is accompanied by strings that don’t allow it to be used wisely in the best interest of the students. This whole system is based on political games and power plays.
    The teachers aren’t better trained because there is not money for that, and when there is money the teachers don’t get to decide what training would be beneficial. In the rare situation worthwhile training is received, there is no money to implement newly acquired skills and curriculum. My budget for my classroom is $100.00 a year. That gives me a big $5.00 per student per year in a Title 1 school to purchase pencils, paper, art supplies, science materials, etc.. There is no money for classroom libraries that might help our students learn to love reading. When money is received, someone outside of the classroom often makes decisions on what it will be spent on.
    I have not had a raise, and my benefits have gone up about 12% for this year. My last raise prior to that was 1 1/2 % and it was eaten up by another benefit increase, which cost me more than the raise. Now my state is telling me that it thinks I should take furlough days off to save them money.
    Despite all of this, my students will continue to progress and to become lifelong learners, because I do not teach for “the system”. I teach in spite of “the system”. I teach children who deserve far more than our political system, our politicians, or the press that spews the venom that tells us we aren’t good enough, will ever provide them. Despite what the politicians, academians, and press may like to project to the public, there are far more good teachers out there than will ever be acknowledged. We have survived the mandated swings of the curriculum pendulum, child behavioralists, and all too often flawed research, and managed to build a nation of literate, well functioning population of citizens in which each generation has been better educted than the generation before them.
    How about, we look at what we are doing right and build on it, instead of taking off on another tangent that really has no long lasting benefit? How about we go down to the community level and let the parents, teachers, and students decide what is best for them? How about we stop blaming the victims and start solving the problem?
    The teachers who have stayed in those low performing schools have not been sitting in some well decorated polictical office. They have been in the trenches of a war which has had very poor leadership and equipment supplied by those in power. Despite that, they have shown gains and they have endured.

  7. One of the key ways to nurture and retain top notch teachers is to provide them with professional development opportunities that are meaningful and which respect the role of teachers as professionals. The Yale National Initiative provides such a model.

    I am writing to urge that the provisions of H.R. 3209 and Bill S.2212, the Teachers Professional Development Institutes Act, which was introduced in the 110th Congress, be incorporated in the Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act in this Congress. This bill will provide grant money for five years so that more states can establish Teacher Institutes.

    I am a high school biology teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina and a Fellow of the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools. I have just completed my second National Seminar and now have two curriculum units which I am proud to share with my students. The depth of knowledge gained in the seminars, and the new activities I’ve created will make for a much richer experience for my students.

    This bipartisan measure would help implement No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on teachers’ preparation in the subjects they teach and would provide colleges and universities and school districts the resources necessary to establish Teachers Institutes in most states. Evaluations have established that Teachers Institutes enhance teacher quality in ways known to improve student achievement. Evidence shows that participation in Teachers Institutes of this type is strongly linked to teacher retention in urban schools and strengthens teachers’ preparation in their subjects. This approach is based on evidence from 32 years of operations in New Haven as well as eleven years in demonstration sites in other cities. (See

    There is no other form of professional development that allows teachers the opportunity to explore their content in depth and develop a rich curriculum unit specifically designed to meet the needs of their students. The seminars also allow teachers from many schools and grade levels to meet and share ideas in a collegial atmosphere with some of the best professors from local universities. Through these local seminars, we will be able to expose many more teachers to this kind of professional development and more students will benefit from the exciting units developed. The provisions in H.R. 3209 and S. 2212 will help states across the country with the support they need to establish and maintain their institutes.

  8. We will not solve the problems in our system of public education until we realize that teachers are NOT the problem. It is true that students deserve ‘high quality teachers’, but that phrase describes most teachers currently in the system. It is time to stop scapegoating our teachers and work together to fix our public schools.

  9. I spent five years working with a federal professional development program in ‘at risk’ schools through a state grant. Then I missed working with students and returned to my home public school to teach. It was like a time warp – most teachers and administrators have no working knowledge of RTI, brain research and reading, and differentiated instruction. The research is not making it to the average teacher and administrator. Not only is is frustrating that I now make 40k less for returning to the classroom, but I make 30k less than most of the teachers that have worked in the same place forever and have not advanced their professional knowledge. It is a problem of keeping good teachers good (relentless professional development) and paying for expertise – not the seat time of teachers (how long they have been in one district doing one thing). This is why the teaching profession loses quality, updated professionals to consulting or college level environments.

  10. Even in a white suburban school, my job has gotten harder in the last four years. I am a Nationally Certified English/Language Arts teacher and have thought every year for the last four years about returning to the classroom or taking a job in the private sector.

    It’s not about pay! It’s about 40 kids in a classroom and knowing what good teaching is supposed to look like but not having the tools and resources to do it because of standarized test days, which truly set a MINIMUM requirement standard, at least in reading and writing.

    It’s about not being able to spend more than 3 minutes a week with individual students because I have 170 per semester. I know that there is data to support smaller class sizes in grade school, but if you’re going to retain teachers, you need to consider smaller sizes at the junior high and high school level as well.

  11. I have been active in public education on a full or part-time(since retirement)basis for 43 years. I have observed the curriculum change over the years. It has expanded, objectives are introduced earlier, and a great deal more rigor is embedded, but the amount of time children have to learn has remained mostly unchanged. In order for our children to succeed, they need more time. The school day should be approximately eight hours and the year should be, at least, 200 days. I know that right now the cost is prohibitive, but we need to start working on this as soon as possible.

  12. We cannot drift into excellence……….

    Yet we continue to dialogue about “school” as in turning around schools when Obama and Duncan should be talking about “student”

    When we do open that strand we will finally get to the discussion that must be engaged with the community (locales, states, nations).

    The first step in such a discussion is what Richard Elmore of Harvard suggests is the most important: we now talk about school reform when we must speak to instructional reform or as Elmore says, “alter the relationship between the child, teacher and content.”

    I must give Obama credit though as I have heard him say the child must take responsibility for his or her own learning… agency.


    We know that too……..research is clear…..student assessment for learning (Black, 1998) gets .04 to .07 effect size. It has been embedded in NCTM… not just a good idea any longer……but as a nation we are trapped in the gravitational pull of summative assessment……or sorting kids…..

    So will we ask as Duncan has for states to build longitudinal data systems layered on the wrong approach……

    Or will we use assessment for learning as the foundation for longitudinal data systems so the child is active agent for his or her own learning and so the child experiences autonomy, competence and relatedness (Deci and Ryan, 2008). When those 3 needs are met, we get “active engagement” or the holy grail of education……

    I fear that Obama and Duncan, the community organizers, left out the most important reform: the fifth rail – the community. Paul Tough in his new book Whatever It Takes, 2009 says it all. He followed Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone around for 5 years……Canada finally got it right after several years of leading with structure as is done routinely in all school turnarounds and opened a Baby College to help parents become successful parents and stop hitting…….John Heckman of University of Chicago discovered that parents who encourage their children versus parents that hit and constantly put their kids down is something that we educators need to know much more about so we can help parents be successful. We can get the kids up academically, but if they go home to trauma every night we fail……..

    Getting the conversation on the child and helping parents be successful is the next step for America.

    Come on Mr Secretary and Mr President…..lead by example, you were both community organizers and know the right thing to do…………

  13. As a retired educator and parent of grown children, I believe that social reform of schools is overlooked. I have read two books that speak to this issue regarding girls at the middle school and high school levels.
    While subbing at the high school level, I became aware of the term “drama”. The context of the term refers to ongoing social issues. These issues distract students from academics.
    Popularity will always be an issue for students, but schools can take measures to create a more level ground for learning. Such measures could include stated goals, such as, respect, endurance, etc. School uniforms are a possibility in some areas. All talents should be regarded not just athletic talent.
    The parents I know who are choosing home schooling or private schooling are concerned about social issues as well as academics. Social reform needs to cover K-12.

  14. I am amazed at how many people blame the family. The truth is – the government decided to take the parent’s right to educate their own children and undertook education, because the government thought it could do a better job, so they taxed us to undertake education and provide it as a service.

    When they can’t do a better job and have taken the kids out of the home they blame the family?

    There is no business in the world that would survive if you were forced (compulsory attendance) to take a service they provide, which you pay for, then blame you if the service they give does not meet the needs of the children, the family and society.

    I respect teachers that do a good job and recognize and respect the role of the parents. Education is for the entire family unit, not so some educators, administrators and their school attorneys can judge parents, decide what is best for the child and bully parents and children into compliance or else.

    That is what communist countries do.

    Stop the abuse of power by those in the education system and you will get good schools, motivated students, true parental involvement and respect for the education system or just give us back our taxes, instead of using our money as a way of condoning the current abuse of children, parents and good educators that care and blaming everyone else for the government’s failure to provide the service they decided to undertake and tax us for.

  15. Here’s another post on this blog where comments are closed. I think it deserves discussion and comment:

    Secretary Duncan Talks to Principals

    Speaking before a crowded room of principals today at the National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals leadership conference in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan commended principals for their tremendous work during challenging times. He praised them for being extraordinary “CEOs” and for doing more with less. He also challenged them to join his fight in turning around schools by rewarding teachers who are doing a great job, strategically placing the best teachers in schools where the needs are the greatest, and leaving the comfort of their high performing schools and taking on persistently under-performing schools. Duncan urged principals to think about turning around the lowest performing schools with their time, talent, expertise and the best team of teachers in order to make a difference in communities that are desperately underserved. Miracles happen every day, he told them. “There are no good schools without good principals.”

    ED Staff

    This entry was written by kwinters, posted on July 17, 2009 at 6:13 pm, filed under News. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

    In my opinion, calling principals ‘CEOs’ explains a lot. It gives away the fact that Secretary Duncan sees public schools as a business enterprise…and that he misunderstands public schools completely.

    And, for the record, there would be more good schools if we had more great principals…but many schools are great IN SPITE OF poor principals.

  16. In graduate school to be a school counselor, we were assigned attendance at a school board meeting. Based on my own experience at the Niles Township Illinois meeting, I witnessed the “love of the kids” that we read about in out texts: The Met, Learning By Heart, and Schools That Learn. I witnessed the power of collegiality and collaboration by the school board president and the principals — the power of true leadership.

    Other of my colleagues talked about personality conflicts, animosity, and disrespect. At the District 65 meeting in Evanston (my home district), the superintendent blatantly disregarded teacher comments and said “Deal with it.” Maybe there is a policy change that they will have to accept but the disrespect left a lasting impression on my classmates and on me.

  17. I am concerned about the exclusion of key stakeholders from the CCSSI. Without all appropriate players involved in the writing and reviewing of these standards, we will be doing our children a disservice.

    First is the exclusion of authentic subject-matter groups from the “Common Core” decisionmaking process that determines what is in the final document. Anyone proposing to create mathematics and English-language-arts standards must enlist and pay heed to the expertise of true subject-area experts. Members of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, appropriate engineering societies, and the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics should be allowed to provide input.

    In addition to being true experts in their fields, college and university professors are in the best position to inform standards-writing committees about what high school graduates need to know and be able to do for success in credit-bearing college-level courses. It is well documented that community colleges nationwide have freshman remediation rates of more than 70 percent in math and English. Clearly, the community college stakeholders must have a seat at the standards-writing table.

    Tax-paying parents are another important stakeholder group absent from the Common Core project. Yet the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that children receive a proper education rests with them. It is they who must closely monitor the success of students and schools, and it is they who must pay the price—in dollars and in anguish—when inadequate standards leave children ill-prepared for college or the workplace. Dozens of grassroots parent groups have sprung up in the past decade to advocate for improvements in mathematics education in the public schools. Our group, the United States Coalition for World Class Math, is just one of these.

    Before mathematics standards for K-12 are finalized, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers should make room at the table for one of the most important education constituencies in the country: the parents of children in our public schools.

    Please insist that these key players get a seat at the table for the future of our country and our children.

    Amy Flax

    New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math

    United States Coalition for World Class Math

  18. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, points to four measures the current administration feels may lead to an improvement in US education.

    Adopting rigorous standards for the formative K-12 years is a must. We know what works, yet, we become off track when we allow theoretical style to dictate what and how our children learn and ignore the basics. Using math education, as an example, countries emphasizing fewer topics and replace the time with an aim toward fluency, automaticity and a more complete understanding of the operation consistently outperform US students. One only need to look at Singapore, South Korea and Finland.

    New graduates with degrees in education come from the very back yard of what needs to be fixed. Why is it that a large percentage of teachers taking the PRAXIS exam require a calculator to perform math at a 5th grade level? Yes, we must address teachers. And, we need to do that by getting the very student who aspires to be a teacher to college with a solid math background. It is not a fault of the teacher or the college, but, rather, the fault of the K-12 system.

    Tracking our progress as a nation needs to occur if we are to understand the impact of any particular curriculum on outcome. We must compare to this to states that already have a solid grasp on what involves a strong math curriculum (MA, CA, IN).

    And, in turning around the low performing schools, we must realize that adopting a curriculum that is not rigorous may actually lead to an improvement in test scores in the short run. But, the arbitrary tests test what is taught, not what may be in the best interest to learn. Over 40% of freshman at 2-year colleges require remedial courses and of these, only 37% goon to graduate. Are we not fooling these children and further perpetuating the achievement gap?

    Thus, the union of the CCSSO and the NGA to develop a national math and English curriculum causes one to sit up and take notice. This collaboration has largely taken place behind closed doors. The “Validation Committee” has yet to be identified. This non-transparent process needs to include the voices of mathematically literate parents and 2- and 4-year college mathematicians. Thus, the United States Coalition for World Class Math launched its “Design Principles” to document what this group of parents, educators and mathematicians feels are imperative to the development of an improved math curriculum. A total of 49 states have blindly signed on to the initiative, yet none have endorsed it. And, many involved have a vested interest in the process from a financial standpoint.

    If we are going to go down the road of reforming education for all US students, we must make sure that all voices are heard at the table. We need to add transparency and continue with state lead efforts.

  19. Our primary focus should be not on the teachers or curriculum but on the home. The poorest performing schools are those in the areas where family life is the worst, or non-existent. The proper family life will give the students the required push to make them see the real value of education.

    All schools offer the students relatively the same curriculum as mandated by their states. It is up to the students to learn the material when it is being taught. It is not up to the staff of the school to chase students all over the cities to bring them to the learning centers. Their parents, or guardians, should be doing this.

    Are our public schools doing a good job? Yes. Could they do better? Yes again. Of course, today’s material being taught is not the same as it was 50 or 100 years ago. The “world of information” has grown so much and so fast that we must now teach students what they will need to know in future years, not what we learned 50 years ago. Of course, this is very difficult as many people, elected officials included, remember their education and wonder why today’s kids should not be taught the same things.

    I don’t know about you, but my high school did not even have an electric typewriter when I graduated in 1960. Look at the progress since then and you will discover why today’s curriculum must be different. We are in a compeltely different age and must keep up with current technologies.

    Accordingly, we will still need tradesmen to do the work that has been done through the years. This is the job of our vocational technical schools. Sure, the trades are the same, but the materials and specifications are different. This must all be taught to the students so they can exist in the 21st century, not the 20th.

    Contrary to popular opinion, not all students are college material. The percentages have not changed, in reality, for decades, if ever. Since we, here in the U.S., choose to educate our kids through high school, some will go to college, some will not. There are many choices for them to make that will fit their capabilities.

    Yes, we need good teachers. But, we need the family unit to come to the front of the class today. In the inner cities, where this is lacking, an increase in good family life will show remarkable increases in the abilities of the students in those schools. This is where the focus needs to be: the family.

  20. We will not solve the problems in our system of public education until we realize that teachers are NOT the problem. It is true that students deserve ‘high quality teachers’, but that phrase describes most teachers currently in the system. It is time to stop scapegoating our teachers and work together to fix our public schools.

  21. If basic subject matter is not implemented and covered over a full school years time frame maths, sciences, English literature, grammar and real national, world history and world religions, all the follow up programs in the world will not product a knowledgeable student. French, Latin (could you even find a teacher now) excellent for the comprehension of English, Spanish, some choice of language from first to twelfth grade would be appropriate.

    High quality teachers are mandatory, period.

    With out those with a true vocation to this endeavor there will be no successful students.
    Weeding out the underachieving teachers is vital to a students success, our states success and our countries future success.
    Do you have it in you?

  22. Life Skills – basic classes required of Community College students – [or could CLEP out if they’ve had the course in HG]. Partially on-line; 1-4 hr classes, to be decided. Standard format/class can be designed and distributed nationally; the courses would also be simply on-line for anyone who wanted to review them on their own. But when the course was taken for credit, some class time – face-to-face discussion; experiential exercises would usually be needed. A class on financial health would also be good.

    Genetics, Families
    Culture/Language as Lenses for Experience

    Why? A comparison of philosophies. [review some; for individual
    work,pick one to explore; note his/her historical context, life
    experience, who came before, how these influenced his/her own
    Faith traditions – focus on communalities.
    Values clarification (own)
    Life Goals (own)
    Make a Plan

    A Developmental Life Perspective (infancy through old age)
    Communication Skills
    Conflict Resolution Skills
    Relationship building, e.g. Marriage
    Parenting Basics
    Forgiveness, Compassion, and Restorative Justice [good for
    the community; good for your health]

  23. Yes, America needs “higher, clearer,and fewer” internationally benchmarked standards in education. Today we race through the curriculum to cover material for the end of year test-material that students will promptly forget afterward.

    Improving our educational system is definitely the “civil rights issue of our generation” – or “this generation’s space race” as Robyn Meredith challenges – or President Obama will have to preside over America’s decline as a nation rather than the American Renaissance we all hope for.

    As a school psychologist I work with students, parents, teachers, and schools and see we are still leaving many (millions?) students behind. I see students with average or higher ability and credit for algebra who can’t divide without a calculator.

    If we did track students longitudinally we could create a warehouse of “what works for whom” by linking students, teachers, and instructional approaches. Group students by skill need rather than grade, placing struggling students with the most successful teachers, and giving them the time they need to learn.

    We need a system of public, private, virtual, charter, and yes even home schools in America so there is an option to meet every child’s needs. As I write: “Every Mind Matters” in America, or it should!

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