Blog

Is I.Q. for real? Ask the Elephant

Several groups have challenged the stability of intellectual ability over time, or believe IQ can be changed. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10 year or 10,000 hour rule. He believes you don’t have to be a genius to succeed; you just have to spend 10 years working at something for 20 hours each week. This is […]

20 reforms, no. 20: business support

If the Elephant-in-the-Classroom approach is to work, it will need unprecedented support from private industry. Companies need to contribute monies to the local school system, ear-marked for career training and apprenticeships. They will also need to coordinate with schools to develop working models. I suspect that even the conservative business community will not object to […]

20 reforms, no. 19: Compete with other countries

I would like to take this opportunity to say something in defense of our teachers and our public school system today. Comparing our kids with kids in Norway, China, or other foreign countries is ludicrous, in my humble opinion. This is truly comparing apples and oranges. America is an immigrant society that accepts and works […]

Just learn the darn thing!

Mastery. A national movement to base grades on mastery of the subject and not homework or behavior has gained some traction. Educators went to this approach when they discovered that nationally only 26% of high school seniors met college benchmarks in four important subjects. With the mastery approach, homework is not graded and student’s can retake […]

20 reforms: no. 17: Common Core

Common Core. This popular new approach is a set of K – 12 academic benchmarks that have been adopted by 45 states. Some folks had the impression that Common Core would demand college prep work for all students in high school. Therefore, my objection is that only 25% to 30% of students are capable and […]

20 Reforms: No. 16: Drop Liberal Arts?

Excerpted from The Elephant in the Classroom (How our fear of the truth hurts kids and how every student can succeed). Since there will always be limited funding for state universities, especially during a recession, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, seems to be on a path that would force cuts to liberal arts courses […]

20 reforms: No. 15: Military Schools

Military schools. These schools have been around for a long time. I attended one in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two years. They offer structure and close personal attention. But again, these have been selective private schools. Now some public-private charter schools are choosing to follow the military model in order to get more kids into college. […]

20 reforms, no. 14: Scholarship Programs

Scholarship programs. A current example of monetary infusion is the Kalamazoo Promise. The Kalamazoo, Michigan program took a blind stance to family income levels, pupils’ grades, and even to disciplinary and criminal records, thus becoming the most inclusive and generous scholarship program in America. Tuition and room and board to Michigan’s public colleges, universities, and […]

Reform no. 13: Is money the answer?

Money. Money (lots of money)! Another approach is simply the massive infusion of money into the elementary and secondary educational system. In 1985 a Missouri judge ordered the state to spend $2 billion over 12 years and per student funding increased to $25,000 per student. But the CATO Institute documented this effort, and a decade […]

20 school reforms: no 12: tutoring

Tutoring. The Elephant in the Classroom believes tutoring promises help for students who are falling behind or who need individualized assistance. In Pinellas County, Florida, the school system is hiring college students at $20 an hour to tutor. The college students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. Bill Maxwell, “A Debate on […]

20 school reforms: no. 11: push up grad rates

Graduation rates have become a government obsession. Get those graduation rates up and we’ll solve all our problems. Right? Maybe not. In fact, a sharp increase in graduation rates is a symptom of our obsession with “pure” academics. This year, the high school graduation rate has topped 80% for the first time in U.S. history. […]

School reform no. 10: Virtual Schools?

Based upon her teaching experience, Joyce Hicks, Associate Professor in the economics department at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, believes virtual classes are valid for searching and information gathering, but not as a stand-alone program. Students must be well-organized self-starters, and even then may have difficulties. She sees some positives, but believes it is […]