Stop feeding the dinosaur

dinosaurBy Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent,
HFM BOCES

We need to stop feeding the dinosaur of archaic educational policy and practice.

I stood looking at my diplomas the other day, wondering what they really said about what I actually know or can do. Sure, they represent a level of accomplishment, and presumably indicate that my skills grew in proportion to my achievement. However, no one hands out copies of their diploma as a means of demonstrating actual skill and knowledge, as you would a resume.

I stood looking at my diplomas because, while graduation rates are improving in our schools, a new report based on an international assessment reveals that United States workers – at least one significant portion – rank very near the bottom in three critical life and work skills: literacy, numeracy (the competence and confidence to use numbers and think mathematically in everyday life) and problem solving.

Where the United States had arguably the best-educated workforce in the world 40 years ago, this new study says it just isn’t so anymore. Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Leadership, Reforming Education | Leave a comment

Update the delivery system for real improvement in education

By Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent, HFM BOCES

Blog Posting ArtIn his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed sweeping changes within New York’s public education system. Many of the issues he addressed, such as teacher evaluation and failing schools, have been part of the ongoing discussion on school improvement for many years. To be fair, he is right about the problems he points out in his speech.

The existing teacher evaluation system, envisioned to help ensure effective teachers staff our schools, is a farce. If anything, this new system – implemented just last year – makes it much harder to get rid of poor teachers, even those without tenure.

There are school buildings and entire districts that have been failing for more than 10 years, have put down roots after being on state lists for 20 years, yet still plod along with graduation rates under 60 percent. These same districts have libraries full of state audits and improvement plans but nothing improves.

What is missing from this discussion is the underlying cause of all these issues. If we are going to talk about reform, let’s talk about radical reformation of the way we deliver education to our students.

Attempts to alleviate the “symptoms” will do little or nothing to cure the root illness. Gov. Cuomo’s “reform” strategies will not fix public education. Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Career Pathways, Leadership, Reforming Education | 1 Comment

Opportunities in a moment of decision

By Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent, HFM BOCES

We are at a moment of decision, not just because it is the beginning of a new year, but because the opportunity now exists to embrace a path that insures a bright educational future for all our children.

I recently sat through a presentation from the College Board, the not-for-profit organization that produces the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). They have established a college and career-ready benchmark and are measuring states to see if high schools are producing seniors who are truly college and career ready. They calculated both a national average as well as state-by-state and school district-by-school district breakdowns. This presentation offered the report of their findings.

I will make two observations based on this report.

First, what we are doing now is evidently not working. The current SAT report sadly echoes the same tale that groups such as the ACT achievement test and the New York State Education Department have been telling for years, that students coming out of high school are not adequately prepared for success at college or in a career. Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Leadership, Reforming Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments