Last Friday, September 23, the White House announced that states could now apply for an exception to the rigidity of the No Child Left Behind Policy. Essentially, in order to receive the exception, the state needs to have an accountability plan measuring student progress.
There are a lot of opinions going around about the whether the new process is “good” or “bad.” The reality is that parts may be good for some people and some parts may be bad for other people. Basically, it means that changes are coming in our educational system. Some of those changes could be pretty good. We just won’t know until we actually see them. They are focusing on trying to fix a system and that system is massive.
What is important for the rest of us is that each of us is an individual and systems are rarely designed to prioritize individual needs. So, what does this change really mean to the individual parent or student? We don’t know, but here is what we know doesn’t change:
There will always be a need for individuals to educate themselves. It’s the way free societies stay free.
The research has and still does show that when education is valued and supported in a student’s home life, the student succeeds no matter what the economic standard of living is for the family.
This is the digital age – the age of being able to be different. Most schools and most educational policies are still in the industrial age in their underlying philosophy. They are still trying fit students into a few narrowly defined categories in a world that has hundreds of options and thousands of life paths. We enjoy the benefits of the digital age in our homes. If people want to log on to Harvard or MIT’s website and become more informed, they can. They can log on to NASA or access their library from their living room. Long gone are the days when the local public school and the local newspaper were the primary purveyors of world knowledge. It’s a brand, new world and most young students have already adjusted to it. They are ready to learn.
So, no matter what changes the systems may undergo and what territorial “dogfights” may ensue, the individual’s response can stay the same. And, that is that each of us has to continually invest in our own knowledge base. It is important that we educate ourselves from multiple resources – no one entity is perfect – that’s why a “melting pot” has always been such a huge advantage – as long as one takes advantage of it.
(Kathy Stoughton, M. Ed., helps parents and teachers give their kids/students a competitive edge in today’s world. More of her strategies and inexpensive solutions can be found at EmpoweringLearners.com.)