I know that for most of the world, we just passed the calendar’s halfway point with the days getting shorter and warmer at the same time, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.
But no matter how you measure it, this school year is done and no one I know is sorry to see it go. Not that the one just beginning is shaping up to be a winner either.
It’s all about the budget, of course. Â Two years worth of a crappy economy has resulted in no raises for everyone, contract cuts for some, larger class sizes and reduced support for teachers.
Despite all that (and more) the big bosses here in the overly-large school district are sending the message that none of this is supposed to affect what we do. Â Everyone is supposed to provide the same level of service – more, actually – with less time, people, and resources.
In other words, nothing changes.
And that attitude is probably our biggest problem.
Even without the economic mess, the education system in this country should be changing, drastically, and this crisis should have been an ideal catalyst to force that process.
We should be using this opportunity to seriously reassess our traditional concept of “school” and what students need to know and be able to do when leave the formal educational process.
Instead our “leaders” work overtime (and expect us to do the same) to maintain the status quo, expecting that when the financial storm ends everything will go back to “normal”.
Failing to understand (or acknowledge) that “normal” was not working for an increasing number of students even before our money problems started, and will serve the needs of an even smaller percentage after the crisis has passed.
I still believe we need public schools in this country. Â Places, whether physical or virtual, where educators organize communities to help students learn essential skills, those that can’t be assessed using multiple choices.
However, if a strong, relevant system for public education is a serious national goal*, it’s going to take a conscious, determined effort.
It won’t happen by paddling in place waiting for the rescue boat to come by.
Ok, now that I have that rant down in electrons, I can focus my attention on the rest of the month.
I will be working during July but it’s a relatively quiet period around here as most of the people I work with are away, allowing me some time for bigger picture thinking, working on longer term projects, and reading stuff by people I’ve never met.
And, at the end of the month, I get to spend most of a week advancing my own learning with some folks from Google, immersed in their Earth and Sketchup programs.
Whatever your summer break looks like, make it a good one.
*And I’m not entirely sure support for the concept in the general public is particularly high, and is likely decliningï»¿.