Teach to the Kids and the Tests Will Take Care of Themselves!

In his books Stephen Covey often used the story about taking time to sharpen the saw and it is a good lesson for public school educators. As we work hard, cutting wood, the saw gradually loses its edge. If we don’t take time to stop and sharpen the saw, it won’t matter how hard we work; our productivity will begin to decline until we are accomplishing almost nothing at all. It is the same concept as an athletic coach pushing his or her athletes to focus on the fundamentals.

The era of high-stakes testing has led public school policy makers and administrators to push teachers to work hard doing the wrong things when what they really need to be doing is teaching to the kids and their unique requirements and not to the test. It seems that no matter how hard our dedicated teachers work toward our misconceived purpose, the test scores rarely improve and when they do they see only gains of the slimmest of margins.

From a child’s first day of school, at age five or six, our focus needs to be on identifying each child’s unique starting point. We need to know where they are on the academic preparedness continuum. Once we have identified what they know and where they are lacking, we can develop an academic path tailored to the unique needs of each child.

Our goal is not to train them to pass state competency exams rather it is to help them lay a solid academic foundation on which they can build the future they will be learning to envision for themselves. Once they have that academic foundation they can begin the wonderful and fun journey of discovery of who they are, what they can be, and where they can go in life.

Their destination should not be based upon anything other than their own evolving sets of knowledge, skills, interests, and dreams. We are not teaching them to be successful in the world as we know it because that world will not exist by the time our students leave school as many as 13 years later.

Think back on your own teachers. Could they have envisioned the world in which you are now asked to teach. The world has undergone such phenomenal change that if our deceased grandparents and educators were able to drop down today they would be overwhelmed by a world that is nothing like the one they knew.

Our job is to make certain our children are always moving forward from one stage of their individual development to the next, irrespective of what their classmates are doing. We must not prepare them for college because college may not be what they will someday want and need to find joy and meaning in their lives. The last thing we must do is allow them to become discouraged, to give up, and to lose hope. We want them to be excited about the adventure and we need to be excited to be their guide, coach, mentor and friend

If we give them a solid foundation they will be primed to go wherever their curiosity, interests, talents, and abilities will take them. They will be primed to thrive in a future we can barely imagine. It will be a different world where every aspect and institution in society will have had to adapt to accommodate whole new generations of motivated young men and women with both the hunger and wherewithal to make a difference and with a dream to follow.

We cannot wait until kids reach middle school and have become so far behind that they have given up and lost hope. Certainly, we must help the children we find at this tragic point in their young lives but it is not where our overall focus must be. Instead, we must focus on children in grades K-2 and makes sure they never fall behind because we have given them a foundation upon which they can construct their own future.

The last chapter of my book,  Reinventing Education, Hope and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America (2013) was an attempt to envision how different the future might look if we help our children develop their full potential. Envisioning that future, I wrote:

“Post secondary educational institutions have had to virtually reinvent themselves as the demand for more advanced mathematics, science, engineering, and information technology classes has exploded. The evolution of institutions devoted to a wide range of technical and vocational educational opportunities has been similarly phenomenal.”


My education model has been developed to allow such a future to evolve and I encourage you to examine it with an open mind. If you are inspired by what you find, as a number of readers have been, I urge you to share it with as many of colleagues as you can. Imagine what it would be like to teach in such an environment. You will find my model and an accompanying white paper at https://melhawkinsandassociates.com/education-model-white-paper/ 

In a few months, I will be releasing a new book focused on the model and what it will allow us to accomplish. More important, it will focus on what we can enable our students to accomplish so they can take their place in a troubled world where their knowledge and imagination will be desperately needed.


An Invitation to Read: “Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream”

Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge For Twenty-First Century America, challenges both the conventional thinking about why so many American children fail and many of the education reform initiatives that are sweeping the nation including the focus on standardized testing, blaming teachers, privatization, charter schools, vouchers, and the corresponding abandonment of our most challenged rural and urban public schools.

The book was inspired by my ten years as a substitute teacher for a public schools district; my experience as a juvenile probation officer during the first nine years of my career; and, by over thirty years of leadership development and consulting experience in organizations where I was responsible for hiring, training, and then both leading and holding the employees of my organizations accountable. Most importantly it was inspired by my experience in applying a “Systems Thinking” approach to understand why systems and processes fail and then to reinvent them to produce desired outcomes. I have Masters Degrees in both Education and Public Affairs and have written four books.

Because we are asking the wrong questions in our search for meaningful solutions to the problems of public education, current reforms are woefully misguided. The correct question is “what are the characteristics common to children who succeed,” not “why children fail.” We need to understand why children fail but we must build our solutions around things that work.

In public schools all over the US, there are examples of children from impoverished families who find a way to excel academically. Whether white or black, from intact or fractured families these children share a common advantage. They are supported by parents who cling to hope that an education offers a way out for their sons and daughters. These mothers, fathers, and often grandparents are relentless in the expectations they hold out for their children. They take responsibility for their children’s success and they partner with their children’s teachers. Unlike so many of today’s students, the children of these parents arrive for their first day of school well-prepared and well-motivated.

While poverty creates tremendous disadvantages, it is not the reason why children fail so often. A fundamental premise of this work is that the problem with public education in America is the hopelessness that so often accompanies poverty and that permeates so many communities throughout the U.S., irrespective of race. I suggest that it is a pervasive sense of hopelessness and powerlessness that contributes to the burgeoning population of parents who have given up on the American dream and on education as a way out for their children. We declared war on it a half century ago but poverty is so huge and amorphous that we feel powerless in its wake. We can do something about hopelessness and powerlessness, however. I show how we can attack that hopelessness, relentlessly, even if it is only one family, one school, or one community at a time.

The other main problem with public education in America is an educational process that is, essentially, early 20th Century technology that has not been substantially modified in over a century. It is an obsolete system that is structured to produce the outcomes it gets and is simply inadequate to meet the needs of Twenty-First Century America and its children. It is a system that is focused on failure and that sets children up for failure and humiliation while actually impeding the ability of teachers to do what our children so desperately need them to do and what they so desperately want to do. The system has left generations of adults bitter and resentful and is the cause of teacher burnout on an unacceptable scale. Ironically, it is system that also does a disservice to the thirty to forty percent of the student population who seem to perform well.

Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream offers thirty-three interdependent action strategies to transform public education in America. They are interdependent because incremental changes and half-measures will not work. The first nineteen strategies are focused on reinventing the educational process to one that is focused on success and subject mastery. It offers specific recommendations to structure the system to produce the outcomes we want by focusing on the relationship between teachers and students. This new model will help teachers teach and foster the ability of teachers to develop long-standing, nurturing relationships with their students and parents. I offer an educational process in which children can learn that success is a process that all can master.

The remaining fourteen action strategies are focused on attacking hopelessness and powerlessness in the community and speaks specifically to the problem of the performance gap between white students and their black and other minority classmates. This performance gap is the most destructive aspect in all of public education. If public education is going to work we need to re-engage parents as critical partners in the education of their children.

I believe that business practices can make a significant and meaningful contribution to the challenges facing public education but I am not talking about principles from the boardrooms with which so many reformers and politicians have become enamored. The business principles to which I refer are things that can be learned from an operational perspective. These principles have to do with things like focus on one’s customer; structuring an organization to serve its purpose; leadership development; problem solving; teamwork; integrating quality assessments into the educational process; and, giving teachers, administrators, and their staff the tools and resources they need to help them do the best job of which they are capable.

It has been two years since Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream was released and, like most authors, there are things I wish I had said differently. If I were re-writing the book today I would minimize, if not eliminate altogether, the discussion about PISA results and comparisons with other nations as I have come to believe they are meaningless.

That being said, it is vital that we understand that the U.S. is being challenged by existing and emerging players in the international marketplace and our supremacy, both economically and politically, is at risk. I am convinced that this makes finding a solution to the challenges of public education the most important item on the American agenda.

Improving the quality of education for every single child in the U.S. is the only way to meaningfully address the problems of poverty and racism that threaten to undermine our democratic traditions.

The book is available in both paperback and kindle versions at amazon.com and melhawkinsandassociates.com.

The Movie “Selma” Could Not Have Been Released at a More Opportune Time

Given the issues that affect African-Americans, specifically, and other minorities and the poor in general, the release of the movie Selma could not have been timelier. Selma is a movie that is more than just a work of historical significance, it offers a prescription for addressing the challenges of Twenty-first century America.

The focus of African-Americans has been directed to the two most recent incidents in a long history of violence against black males on the part of law enforcement officers. In the midst of the violence that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere and the impassioned plea for justice, many African-American men and women, including many in positions of prominence, adopted the symbolic gesture of raised hands. It was a brilliant move that not only symbolizes the unity of the black community and its supporters on this issue but also provides a visible reminder to African-Americans and others to make good decisions when stopped by a police officer.

I will continue to believe that the overwhelming majority of our nation’s law enforcement officers are dedicated professionals who do their best to keep the peace in every sense of the word. The problem, of course, is that young people who encounter the police in the community or on the streets are no more able to differentiate between good cops and bad than a police officer can distinguish between a young black person who is up to no good and those who are minding their own business.

What we need from both sides is restraint. Sadly, recent attacks against police officers only puts them all on edge, making restraint more difficult to sustain and that much more necessary.

Prior to the two most recent incidents of violence against young blacks by the police, citizens have been coming together and are engaged in an effort to bring an end to the violence that pervades so many American cities. Often, the violence such communities are forced to endure are violence of gang- and crime-related attacks of blacks on blacks or Hispanics on Hispanics, etc.

If the African-American community can capitalize on the unity and cohesiveness created by the issues cited above and channel the anger, they could apply the lessons learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the hundreds of other civil rights leaders who changed American society.

One of the goals of the civil rights movement, beyond campaigning for laws against discrimination, was to make the American dream a reality for all children including blacks and other minorities. The fact that this movement changed America is an example of just how powerful such grass-roots movements can be.

Now, a half-century after the height of the civil rights movement, a significant population of African-Americans and other minorities are not participating in the American dream and neither are millions of poor white Americans. Let’s seize this opportunity to shout out a call to action to make the American dream a reality for all American children.

Once the laws of the nation were rewritten to insure that all Americans must treated equally under the law, the key to realizing the American dream for those not born into affluence has been a quality education.

Many American parents have lost trust and faith in both our systems of public education and the American dream much as they have lost faith and hope in our justice system. Because public education failed them, at least in their own minds, they do not teach their children that an education is the key to better opportunities and to a life out of poverty. They do not stress the importance of working hard in school to their children. The children of these parents arrive at school poorly prepared to succeed, academically, and with little or no motivation to learn.

Because of the level of distrust that exists for these parents, when their children have problems at school, they rush to the defense of their children. They do this because they do not believe the teachers have their children’s best interests in mind.

Many African-Americans and others believe that the schools discriminate against their children. There is a strong sense that the entire system of public education is racist. This is a belief that must be put to rest, permanently. Our public schools are not rife with institutional racism in which minorities have no chance and Fort Wayne Community Schools provides a perfect example. FWCS is led by an African-American superintendent, and is populated by African-American administrators, principals, and teachers.

Yes, racist teachers exist just as the U.S. is populated by many citizens who are racist. The overwhelming majority of public school teachers, however, are dedicated professionals who want all of their students to be successful just like the overwhelming majority of African-American men and women are law-abiding citizens and the majority of police officers want to serve the interests of justice.

As we speak, led by the corporate community and the federal government, Indiana and other states are aggressively pursuing strategies to not only weaken the bonds between communities and their schools, but are also weakening our public schools. These forces are attacking public school teachers and are blaming them for the problems in public education. It is clear that these are not strategies designed to address the problem of our poorest communities and our most challenged public schools.

This scenario creates a unique opportunity for minority communities to link forces with the public schools in their communities and with the teachers of those schools. In my next post I will propose a number of specific strategies. These strategies will be constructed on the lessons we have learned from the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties.

The essence of that message is that if people want to change the world around them they need to accept responsibility for bringing about those changes rather than wait for someone else to do it for us. Many of these strategies have been detailed in my book, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America.

Part 2 of the Action component of our Strategic Action Plan to Reinvent Public Education – Engaging Parents and the Community


As we shift our focus to the community we must call on our political leaders for leadership, resell the American dream, and to educate all Americans on the paramount role of parents in improving the motivation to learn.


It would be so easy to stop at this point, thinking that our job is finished but, in reality, it has just begun. Education is simply a tool to help us prepare each new generation for the challenges our nation will face in an ever-more competitive world marketplace. It is a marketplace in which it will be impossible for us to compete, effectively, if we do not have the full participation of our entire citizenry. We simply must bring them on board.


As challenging and overwhelming as this may seem it is nothing more than an enormous marketing and advertising campaign to repackage and resell the American Dream. For all of the progress other economies have made with respect to their ability to compete with the U.S. we are still the unparalleled leader in marketing and advertising and we need to capitalize on this strength to re-engage every American to join their fellow citizens in rising to the challenges facing our nation. It is a perfect opportunity for African-Americans and other minorities to assume their rightful place as full partners in the American enterprise and in American society. We simply need to sell them on the idea that the time and the opportunities are prime.


The beauty of education is that nothing we do as a nation reaches into as many homes and as many families as our systems of education and it provides the perfect opportunity to not only transform public education but also to transform American society. It is an initiative in which the leaders of our school districts throughout the nation will be the point persons carrying the message of our political leadership. It is an initiative where our school superintendents and principals will be supported by leaders from government, professional athletics, entertainment, and the full spectrum of businesses. It is an initiative in which every single American man and woman will have a meaningful role to play.


What follows is the blueprint for action in the form of our final fourteen (14) action items.


 Action Item #20 – Our Presidents, present and future, must initiate and sustain a movement to re-sanctify the American dream, calling on leaders at every level of governments and business, and men and women in every community to believe in the American dream with their words and deeds and to ask American parents to accept responsibility for the education of their children. Further, that every American mother and father work hand-in-hand with their children’s teachers as full partners in the educational process. This is the categorical imperative of our time.


 Action Item #21 – Leaders at every level are challenged to ask parents everywhere, irrespective of race or economic circumstances: “Is your son or daughter a future President of the United States?  Is he or she a future CEO, physician, attorney, teacher, engineer, school superintendent, or other professional?” And then, those parents must be challenged to help their children achieve the best success of which they are capable.


  Action Item #22 – Educators accept that the over-riding objective must be to improve the motivation of students and that this requires the active partnership of the parents of those children. Toward this end, school boards need to re-establish expectations for their superintendents and principals to work toward this objective and determine how performance against those expectations will be evaluated.


  Action Item #23 – School Corporations must first target those segments of their community that are the lowest performing but no segment is to be overlooked.


  Action Item #24 – Educators must hit the streets using all available means to draw parents into their children’s schools and to engage those parents in the educational process. They must also work to enlist the assistance of community leaders toward that end and must hold themselves and their staffs accountable for the outcomes.


  Action Item #25 – Educational leaders must engage the creative energies of the entire community, including charitable foundations, for the purpose of developing and evaluating programs to help pull parents in as partners and to help them learn how to be effective in supporting the academic efforts of their children.


  In order to accomplish these objectives our school corporations must re-establish the expectations and priorities of principals and administrators.



  Action Item #26 – Superintendents must remove the administrative burdens from the shoulders of their principals, freeing them to devote their time and energy to their primary objective, even if it means employing more administrative support. Districts must create the expectations that principals and administrators spend 75 percent of their time in direct contact with parents, students, teachers, and staff.


  Action Item #27 – School Corporations must place a premium on positive leadership: Relying on positive leadership skills as the criteria for selection of principals and administrators and making real investments in ongoing leadership development for those principals and administrators.


  Finally, we must identify the communities with the greatest needs and we must use every tool and resource at our disposal to engage those communities and their leaders and to enlist their commitment to make education of our children the over-riding priority of every citizen. We must then replicate that process in each and every community in the nation.



 Action Item #28 – We need to call upon our presidents, present and future, to challenge celebrities from every venue, large and small, to make a commitment to public education by reaching out to their fan bases, asking them to accept responsibility for the education of their children. This challenge must be extended to every adult American, asking them to do whatever is within their power in order to make a difference.


  Action Item #29 – Initiate a cultural transformation using the African-America community as a model, on both a national and local front, in which black Americans, as a community:

  • Accept responsibility for their futures with no reliance on “The Man” to solve their problems for them;
  • Stop blaming the white people for the plight of blacks, whatever one’s opinion about the culpability of white society, simply because blaming others is a debilitating strategy;
  • Place a premium on education;
  • Raise expectations of black children in the classroom and relentlessly encourage our children to exceed those expectations;
  • Work as partners with our local school systems, both public and private, to support the teachers of our children.







 Action Item #30 – Local superintendents should encourage head start and other preschool programs in their school districts to redouble their efforts to pull parents into the process so that our children can continue at home the important work they do at their school.




 Action Item #31 – Superintendents of each district should establish a community advisory organization with representation from key members of each high school’s community: parents, churches, social and community organizations, neighborhood associations, and businesses. As noted earlier, these specific examples are specifically targeted at the African-American community because this is where the most glaring deficiencies can be found but they can easily be modified and local advisory organizations will tailor their activities to the unique requirements of their community. Examples of activities for which this organization will be responsible include:




  •          Reaching out to the community to solicit broad-based participation and support of the community;
  •          Asking all leaders of the African-American community to carry President Obama’s challenge into the homes of their community and to engage the community in the process of creating a new culture; one that challenges black children to assume their rightful place as players in the business and professional playing fields much as they have done in the world of professional athletics and entertainment;
  •          Brainstorming with people from across the spectrum of the community for innovative programs that will create the support systems necessary to facilitate this objective;
  •          Recruiting volunteers from among the ranks of professionals, business executives, craftsmen, tradesmen, athletes, and artists to reach out into the communities with which they have a connection and to connect with parents and students;
  •          Invite each school’s population of parents to a free lunch with their children, once per month;
  •          Using the same creative marketing techniques we use in promoting fundraising ventures, we can invite parents to workshops in the evenings or on Saturdays, to teach them how to help their children with homework;
  •          We can solicit parents to volunteer at their son or daughter’s school and, where necessary, we can enlist some of them to provide babysitting for those who have young children still at home;
  •         We can ask churches, neighborhood library branches, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, scout troops, and many other community programs to provide organized study, reading, and writing groups and to recruit tutors from among their ranks;
  •          We can find more creative ways to develop mentoring programs to bring young people into direct contact with men and women who demonstrate each and every day of their lives that success and achievement are within our power; and,
  • ·         We can ask families and neighbors of parents with school age children to support these parents in this process in every conceivable way.




 Action Item #32 – Successful men and women of each community should be challenged to reach back to their communities: to support the efforts of educators to pull parents in as partners in the educational process and/or to mentor to a child in need until there are not enough children to go around.




 Action Item #33 – Urge all Americans to give support and encouragement to the children in their lives: grandchildren, nieces and nephews, our children’s friends, kids from our neighborhood, even our own children. Let them know how important it is that they do their best and that we are rooting for them.






Fixing public education must be the categorical imperative of our time and the process will require the participation of the entire community. It is essential that parents be full partners in the educational process because these are the men and women who have the best chance of bringing a child to their first day of school, motivated to learn even in the face of the obstacles with which they will surely be confronted. If the child has wandered off the path, teachers and parents working together offer the best hope that these children can be redirected.


Improving the motivation to learn on the part of students and increasing their level of preparedness when they arrive for their first day of school must be the ultimate objective of every single thing we do and we must evaluate the efficacy of every program and investment on the basis of how well it services this purpose. We cannot afford to waste a single moment or dollar on things that do


We must also step back as educators, at all levels, to view our system of public education as an integral whole. We must apply a systems-thinking approach that will allow educators and policymakers to challenge their fundamental assumptions about public education; to understand how what we do contributes to the problem; and, ultimately, to re-engineer the system to do what we need it to do to optimize the power of a child’s motivation to learn. It must be a system focused on success that will help each child progress along their unique path at the best speed of which he or she is capable.


The entire educational community must reach out also to the current and future Presidents of the United States, urging them to fire the starter’s gun and lay down the challenge to every mother and father to accept responsibility for the education of their children and for partnering with their teachers and principals.


These things must be accomplished with an unprecedented urgency because the very future of our way of life is in jeopardy. If we fail to seize up this opportunity then the outcomes we will experience in the coming years will be decidedly unpleasant and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.






Part 1 of the Action component of our Strategic Action Plan to Reinvent Public Education

What follows are thirty-three (33) action items, all part of a comprehensive plan to transform public education in America.  These are actions that can be implemented one school district or organization at time until it is the reality in every public school district and every private, parochial, and charter school in the United States. The action items are divided into two groups.

The first group that are presented in this post are for implementation within our schools to transform the educational process. The second group, which will be presented in a subsequent post, will be focused on soliciting the support of the community at every level and venue toward the objective of pulling parents into the educational process. We want to resell the American dream and re-instill the hope and faith of millions of American parents that this newly transformed educational process will give their children a real chance for a better life.

The plan is constructed in such a way that it can evolve as our professional educators learn what works best in their particular environment. It is a plan that is designed to be a learning and adaptive process. The only aspects of the plan that are non-negotiable are our commitment to give each child an opportunity for a quality education and to preserve and protect the relationship between our schools and the communities they exist to serve.

These thirty-three (33) action items were first presented in my book Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America. For the plan to work, each and every action item must be addressed, even if modified to fit the unique characteristics of a school or community. The deletion of any item will throw the entire plan into a state of disequilibrium and will assure its failure.

The job of professional educators is to take these action items and to add to the list of things we can do, relentlessly. When outcomes are disappointing, a solution is always there, in front of us, at the very edge of our present capability.

The reader is advised that the logical framework for these action items is discussed in detail in my book Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America. The book examines, from an historical perspective how education has evolved to its current state and makes a detailed argument for each and every one of the recommendations to follow. Because much has been learned since my book was written, the author has exercised the privilege of making a few small changes in the recommendations.

In our post of June 24th we outlined all of the things we want our newly designed system of education to accomplish and the reader is encouraged to quickly review those goals and objectives before proceeding with the actual action items. In essence, what we want to accomplish is to put teachers in a position to teach and children in position to learn. We want both teaching and learning to be fun. We want teaching and learning to be a life-affirming activity.

Below are the specific steps that we believe will lead us to a new reality in which all of our goals and objectives can be achieved within the context of the system as an integral whole. These are not a list of actions from which we can pick and choose.


Action Item #1 – Each state department of public education should establish a forum of their state’s most accomplished educators and challenge them to employ a “Systems thinking approach”[1] in order to challenge our fundamental assumptions about the system and then re-engineer the system to better meet the needs of Twenty-first century American children, their parents, and educators. We need to:


  1.       Assess each student’s unique starting point and tailor an academic plan to his or her unique requirements;
  2.      Change the reality in such a way that what matters is not how fast a child learns something, compared to his or her classmates, rather that they learn it;
  3.     Change the expectations for teachers in such a way that taking the time to make sure a child is ready to move on is the norm and not a risky, consequence-laden diversion;
  4.       Restructure our schools in a way that increases the probability that close, long-lasting relationships will develop between teachers and students and also the parents of those students;
  5.      Create an environment that fosters the special rapport many of us experienced with our favorite teachers;
  6.      Create reality in which no child is labeled and where every child succeeds because, in the final analysis, all success is relative;
  7.     Create a reality in which children never have to worry about being pushed into a situation in which they are unprepared and thus predetermined to fail; 
  8.      Create a reality in which the expectations of our children are incessantly on the rise;
  9.       Create a reality in which being somehow different does not diminish the esteem in which we are held and where our differences can be celebrated;
  10.    Create a reality that focuses entirely on success and in which the word failure does not exist;
  11.   Teach children that success is a process that all can master; and,
  12.   Rethink what Twenty-first Century children must learn in order to be successful in a new world where what we learn today may be obsolete before we know it.


It is imperative that we address the problems of trust and accountability. This will require that we engage parents in the process, that we make what happens in the classroom more transparent, and that teachers, their unions, and school administrators work together to find new methods and measures of accountability and enhance teacher training.


Action Item #2 – Individual teachers, members of teaching teams, and teacher unions must demand more accountability from their colleagues and must work hand in hand with administrators to develop peer review standards and practices to ensure that:

  1.        Substandard teachers are identified and remediated;
  2.        That exemplary teachers are recognized and rewarded;
  3.       That continued unacceptable performance leads to consequences that may include termination; and,
  4.      That competency exams have little if any role to play in the assessment of teacher or school performance.




Action Item #3 – Teachers associations must rise to the challenge of redefining their mission in meeting the challenges of Twenty-first Century public education with a focus on partnering with the administration in the development of teacher training in: working as members of teaching teams; accepting responsibility for responding proactively to substandard performance of colleague; developing positive, nurturing relationships with students; and, developing partnerships with parents. Unions will also play a key role in serving as a powerful advocate for their members in the adoption and implementation of the other action items we will be proposing below.




Action Item #4 – Create an expectation that parents will visit their child’s classroom a given number of times during a semester or school year and hold the parents accountable by prompting those that need it and by reporting whether or not the expectations were met on report cards.




Action Item #5 – Install digital video recording equipment:


  1.      In the classrooms of American public schools and place sole control of that equipment in the hands of the classroom teachers, and
  2.      In the corridors, common areas, and playgrounds with the control place in the hands of the principal.



Next we must demand a commitment of students to both the educational process and to reasonable codes of conduct. This must include a change in perspective in which getting a quality education is no longer an entitlement but rather and a responsibility of citizenship.



Action Item #6 – States shall be asked to pass new legislation that abolishes compulsory education beyond the age of fourteen (14).




Action Item #7 – Establish education as a responsibility of citizenship rather than as a right and create an entitlement-free code of conduct in which students have the right to be safe, to be treated with dignity, and to an opportunity for a quality education, and are expected to earn rights and privileges through citizenship and scholarship.



It is vital that we shift the focus of our educational process to success, subject mastery, and accomplishment and eliminate even the idea of failure.



Action Item #8 – Shift educational focus to success and away from failure, providing ever-rising expectations: there is no failure, only varying velocities of success with students always working at the edge of their capability.



Action Item #9 – Shift our focus from protecting children from humiliation to preparing students to:


  1.       View success as a process, not a gift or entitlement,
  2.      View disappointing outcomes and mistakes as learning opportunities, and
  3.    Understand that the learning process prepares them to overcome adversity.




Action Item #10 – Convert educational standards that have been established in virtually every state, to sequential gradients of mastery from a most elementary starting point to overall subject mastery. We would want to set minimum levels of mastery that even the most challenged students can achieve with ever-higher levels of mastery that will follow, effectively allowing a student to progress as far as he or she is able.



We must create a unique academic path for each and every student so that they are judged only against their own performance.



Action Item #11 – Complete a comprehensive academic assessment on each child, prior to entering their first academic year, for utilization in the development of an educational plan tailored to his or her unique requirements.




Action Item #12 – Require students to demonstrate subject mastery before they are permitted to move on to new material, thus building a solid foundation for future academic success by:


  •        Allowing students to move forward as quickly as they are able,
  •        Allowing students who are struggling to get the special attention they require, and
  •        Document their accomplishments not their failures as part of their formal academic record.



We must put teachers in a position to teach, to engage both parents and students, and insure that they have the resources they require to do their important job.


Action Item #13 – Replace classroom aides with certified teachers to strengthen the team teaching capability and assuring that every dollar spent on personnel in the classroom is spent on professionals who can facilitate the learning process.




Action Item #14 – Introduce team teaching at all levels from elementary to secondary, where groups of three or more teachers are responsible for guiding a group of students through a given number of the stages of mastery.




Action Item #15 – Eliminate all reference to grade levels and replace that concept with three academic stages to be referred to as Elementary (first through the fifth academic year), Middle (sixth through the eighth academic year), and Secondary (ninth through the twelfth academic years).




Action Item #16 – Upon entry into their first academic year, groups of roughly forty-five students will be assigned to a team of at least three teachers who will remain with this group of students through completion of the students’ fifth academic year. As children enter their sixth academic year, they will be similarly assigned to a new team of at least three teachers who will remain with their students through academic years six to eight, at which time students and their families will have to decide whether the child will continue their formal education. These elementary and middle school academic units will allow students and teachers to establish close personal relationships that will foster the child’s academic success.

When students enter the ninth academic year, which will require a formal commitment from both the student and parent(s), the schools must be able to effectively assess a student’s progress to-date in order to determine how best to support each individual in the secondary stage of their education. Not only will that decision relate to an academic track such as college prep, technical, or vocational it must also determine the levels of intimacy and personal attention necessary for the child to perform at their optimal level.



We must create new measures of accomplishment, eliminate reliance on standardized competency examinations, and integrate the accountability process into the instructional process.



Action Item #17 – Replace current competency exams, such as the ISTEP+ in Indiana, with frequent mini-exams that allow teachers to assess subject mastery frequently throughout the year and to document these accomplishments.  Also, establish the threshold for demonstrating mastery at eighty-five percent (85%).




Action Item #18 – Eliminate graded homework that penalizes students for the mistakes they make and focus on practice that identifies mistakes as opportunities to learn followed by penalty-free chances to try again without any sense of failure until success is achieved.



We must take advantage of state-of-the-art technology, giving our teachers the ability to manage their time and priorities, eliminating important but time-consuming activity, and all with minimal adverse impact and the same user-friendliness we have come to expect from our smart phones.



Action Item #19 – Challenge an eclectic gathering of experts to develop a system of user friendly software and technology that converts academic standards, by subject matter, to step-by-step increments that:


  1.        Support teachers and students in the presentation of instructional material;
  2.       Permit students to read and study independently,
  3.        Provide multiple opportunities for students to practice applying these new skills both in the classroom and at home;
  4.       Give the teachers and students meaningful feedback as to the level of the student’s comprehension;
  5.       Directs students, automatically, to additional practice and instructional resources if appropriate;
  6.        Determines when a child appears to be ready to demonstrate their mastery in a given subject and directs them to what appears to be a practice quiz with no indication that the student must pass, but which is actually a Mastery Quiz;
  7.        If the child demonstrates mastery, will guide both student and teacher to appropriate new instructional units or modules;
  8.       When the child is unable to demonstrate mastery, will, very matter-of-factly, redirect the student and teacher to additional instruction and practice opportunities with the same material; leading to additional opportunities to practice and demonstrate mastery;
  9.        Relieve teachers of the burden of grading and recording papers whether practice assignments or quizzes thus freeing them to focus on instruction, feedback, and support;
  10.    Transmits documentation of the students successful mastery of the subject matter to the student’s permanent record for both recordkeeping and verification by appropriate authorities; and,
  11.    That periodically prompts the student to a review of previous lesson modules.

[1] Senge, 1990.

Charter Schools Are Not the Solution to Public Education in the US

While I would enthusiastically support the concept of creating a charter school to test a new instructional model and would certainly approve the use of incentives to encourage families to place their children in that school, that is not the way charter schools are being utilized here in Fort Wayne, Indiana nor, I suspect, in most other communities in the US.

The Charter schools with which I am familiar are might posture themselves as innovative but, in reality, they are little more than lifeboats floated out into the murky sea of public education to give the few families that are so inclined a place to which they can escape from the public schools.

There are insufficient numbers of these lifeboats to accept more than a miniscule percentage of the total population of children who are in the figurative “damaged ships” that are our urban public schools; thus, such schools can have no more than a marginal impact on the challenges facing public education in America.

The fact that we create these avenues of escape for the most motivated families and their children and still expect the teachers of the abandoned school to improve scores on standardized competency examinations is absurd. Charter schools may be a lifeline for a small number of families but they are a virtual sentence of death, or at least imprisonment, to the abandoned schools and to their students and educators.

The message this sends to the community at large is “we cannot do anything to fix our most challenged public schools so let us, at the very least, help a few families and their children escape.

The practice of using school vouchers is also creating its own series of adverse impacts. Not only do vouchers drain scarce tax dollars out of the accounts of our most challenged schools, those dollars are not creating outcomes that are significantly better for the students as, at least locally, the performance of charter schools on competency exams is disappointing. Worse yet, is that a portion of the tax revenue siphoned out of the budgets of our public schools is being utilized for purposes other than the education of our children.

I know, personally, of two Catholic parishes in Fort Wayne that have found vouchers to be a profitable enterprise and have used the revenue to pay off the parishes debts to the Dioceses or to address non-school related financial concerns while requests for school related uses of the funds have been denied. Now that this practice has come to light, that unfortunate and inappropriate practice will be discouraged, hopefully, if not discontinued.

We say that our purpose is to fix public education and that is expressed in our collective mission statements. Our behavior suggests that we have given up on at least our urban public schools as lost causes.

The fundamental problem with education reform is that it amounts to little more than tinkering with obsolete educational processes that contributes, greatly, to the failure of its students and the overwhelming majority of educational reformers, “corporate reformers” or “traditional,” seem oblivious to this reality. No matter how many times we keep re-shuffling the same deck we will continue to get the same 52 cards. Unfortunately, they are the wrong cards.

If the reader can allow his or her mind to consider, imagine that we have landed on another planet with a couple of million families and we want to set up schools for our children. If we were to take advantage of this unique opportunity and design and educational process from scratch, would it appear anything like public education looks in the United States of America, today? If we were to apply any amount of imaginative, exponential thinking the answer would be that the system we would create would bear little resemblance to what we have here and now.

The saddest fact of all is that reinventing our educational systems and processes would not be all that difficult if only we would open our hearts and minds to a new way of thinking about education. With but a few exceptions, most of the things we would do differently would require nothing more than a majority vote of the local school district.

I am proposing that we apply a systems-thinking approach utilizing present day business principles to reinvent education in America. I am not talking about such business principles of the corporate board room as financial incentives, competition, privatization and entrepreneurialism. In fact, these are the exact wrong business principles.

The business principles to which I refer are the principles learned in an operational setting such has: focus on one’s customer; identifying and focus on one’s mission, structuring the operation to meet its objectives, problem-solving, teamwork, integrating quality assessments into the learning process, and giving the people on the production line (teachers and administrators) the tools and resources they need to do the best job of which they are capable.
In my book, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America, I offer a comprehensive blueprint for change.

My request to educators and reformers alike is: let us pause for a moment, clear our minds, and listen to the ideas of someone with a fresh perspective. What do we have to lose other than a few minutes of our time? This is something else smart businesspeople have learned. They often seek out consultants with a broader perspective to challenge their assumptions and paradigms. They even pay for this service, which is the best indicator of its perceived value.

Response to the Column on Culture and Poverty by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post

Bravo for the rejection, by @eugenerobinson of the @washingtonPost, of Rep. Paul Ryan’s assertion that culture is to blame for poverty in the U.S. It is what I have been trying to say in my book, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream, but Robinson has said it better. Such proclamations do, indeed, provide an excuse for doing nothing. Such thinking also provides fodder for corporate reformers of education who want to privatize our schools and minimize the amount of influence a local community will have over the schools their children must attend.

Ironically, when traditional educators challenge such corporate reform agendas they make the same excuses by claiming that poverty is the cause of the problems with public education in America and, yes, I know this sounds counter-intuitive. Blaming poverty gives educators license to lower their expectations because “there really isn’t anything of significance we can do until our government effectively addresses the problems of poverty.”

I wish I could go back and add Robinson’s comment on culture, in the section of my book where I say that the problem with education in America is not poverty, it is the hopelessness that so often accompanies poverty. That hopelessness and powerlessness also contribute to a cultural devaluation of education on the part of a growing population of Americans; citizens who have become effectively disenfranchised and have given up hope that a quality education can create a better life for their children.

I wish I had done a better job of saying that the problems of poverty and educational failure are not the result of the many subcultures of American society; whether African-American, Hispanic-American, or other ethnic groups.

Why can we not recognize that this cultural diversity is not a weakness of American society but rather a strength that adds rich textures, flavors, sounds, and perspectives to a pluralistic democracy.

Blaming poverty for the problems in education, like blaming culture for the existence of poverty, is convoluted logic that blinds us to pragmatic solutions and is nothing more than an excuse for continuing to make the same mistakes we have been repeating for generations. Until we change this thinking our schools will continue to chew up and spit out huge numbers of American school children.

Even though this cultural devaluation is prevalent in many African-American communities in cities and poor rural communities throughout the U.S., it transcends race and exists anywhere that people have given up hope and no longer believe that they can exert control over the outcomes in their lives.

Poverty and the problems with education in America are symptoms of the same pathology as is the cancerous, cultural devaluation of education. They are all functions of hopelessness and powerlessness. The operative question becomes, “why don’t we attack hopelessness relentlessly.”

In my book, I suggest that education not only provides a barometer with which we can measure the severity of the problem, education also provides our society with the best opportunity to alter this reality. Make no mistake, if we continue to allow the spread of hopelessness it has ominous implications for the future of America. This is particularly true given the emergence of whole new economies that are challenging American supremacy in the dynamic and highly competitive world marketplace of the Twenty-first Century.

We must transform the educational process in America from a system that is focused on failure to one that acknowledges the cavernous disparity with respect to the level of motivation and preparation that young children carry with them on their first day of school. We must have a system that puts teachers in a position to help their students learn how to be successful rather than the current system that sets up huge numbers of children for failure and humiliation. And, then, we wonder why they begin to lose hope that an education provides a pathway to better opportunities.

We must urge Americans of all backgrounds and economic circumstances to believe that we are anything but powerless to change the outcomes that flow from our society’s shortcomings.

Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America, offers a blueprint for change that outlines thirty-three specific action strategies for transforming American public education and also for infusing hope and faith in the American dream in the hearts and minds of every American man, woman, and child.

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch; A Review by Mel Hawkins November 5, 2013

Reign of Error, by Diane Ravitch is a powerful work by a woman who is one of the most articulate voices in the field of education in America. On one hand she is dead on in her assessment of many of the current reform initiatives from privatization of education; to reliance on competency testing as the primary assessment tool of students, teachers, and their schools: and, the practice heaping the majority of the blame for the problems of education in America on teachers and schools. She offers eloquent rejections of privatization of schools, the concepts of charter schools, vouchers, Common Core, as well as the head long dash to implement broad and largely untested reforms initiatives. Thank you, Dr. Ravitch.

When it comes to helping us determine what we should do differently, I came away disappointed. What a missed opportunity and she comes so close to the truth; so close to utilizing her remarkable platform to provide the dynamic leadership our nation so desperately needs. While I will continue to hold her in high esteem, she is caught, as are so many of her colleagues, in what I like to think of as a paradigm rift in which she is constrained by her assumptions and preconceptions. This is surprising in someone who was able to look back to a prior and quite popular work and recant her “earlier support for what is now known as the “reform” agenda.” Not an easy thing for a writer of any ilk to do, let alone someone of Ravitch’s stature. It is a testament to her character.

My hope is that this review will prompt Ravitch to take a few additional steps back to where she can view our systems of education as an integral whole and, then, challenge her underlying assumptions about why so many American children are failing and what we need to do to alter that reality.

Let us examine a few examples of how simple truths can escape the scrutiny of even the best and brightest of our stars.

Ravitch starts out with the statement that “Yes, we have problems, but those problems are concentrated where poverty and racial segregation are concentrated.” This is conventional wisdom in its purest form. We have been blaming the problems of our society—not just our schools—on poverty, racial segregation and discrimination, and deteriorating neighborhoods for so long that we that it has become an unspoken truth; a unalterable given.

What I want to suggest to Dr. Ravitch and others is that while there is, indeed, an interdependent relationship between poverty, racial segregation, deteriorating neighborhoods, fractured families, drugs and violence; that relationship is not causal. Consider the idea that educational failure, poverty, and deteriorating neighborhoods and all of the associated problems are symptoms of the same pathology; one that transcends race and relative affluence.
Is it not true that there are many children from families who are not poor whose academic performance is as bad as their impoverished classmates? Is it not true that, even though the single greatest disparity with respect to academic performance is the gap that exists between white and black students, there are many African American students who pass their state competency exams and excel academically? Conversely, is it not true that there are children from affluent families living in vibrant, middle class neighborhoods who are performing just as badly as their classmates from deteriorating urban and rural communities? Is it not true that there are many children from intact families who are failing just as miserably as their classmates from families that are, in some way, fractured?
Consider the possibility that there may be forces at work below the horizons of conventional thinking that are influencing all of these demographic groups; forces that transcend them all.

In my own book, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge of Twenty-First Century America, a book in which Ravitch is quoted several times, I suggest that the problem with education in America is a burgeoning population of American citizens who have lost hope and faith in the American dream. These men and women have become effectively disenfranchised. By this I mean that these men and women, many of whom are mothers and fathers, live under a blanket of hopelessness and powerlessness. They no longer believe that they possess the power to control the outcomes in their lives. The American dream does not exist for these citizens and, therefore, it does not exist for their children. This is a cultural phenomenon.

These mothers and fathers are products of the same dysfunctional education system to which they are asked to send their children. They send their children willingly, not because they believe education to be a ticket to the American Dream rather because it gives them eight or more hours a day, 36 to 40 weeks per year when they are relieved of the obligation to be responsible for their children. These mothers and fathers do not teach their children that education is a path to a better life and is worthy of their hard efforts and sacrifices. As a result these youngsters show up for their first day of school with precious little preparation and little or no motivation to learn. In spite of our best intentions, the American educational process is poorly prepared to handle the challenges that these children and their apathetic parents present, placing teachers in an almost impossible situation.

In spite of what experts like Dr. Ravitch and so many of our policy makers wish to believe, no matter how diligently we strive and how much money we spend, we cannot undo for this expanding population of children the damage that results from a culture of hopelessness and powerlessness. Our existing educational process is not only poorly prepared to respond to the challenges these students present but it sets children up for failure and humiliation. The result is that by the time these kids reach middle school, if not before, they are as turned off and apathetic as their parents. In a few years, these youngsters will be sending their own children off to school with the same lack of motivation and commitment.

Now, let us think about some of the exceptions that every professional educator has seen, where a student from poor and often fractured families, living in the midst of the most dreadful poverty in America, who show up at school with a seemingly inexplicable motivation to learn and to get the best possible education. We can recognize these boys and girls not only because they, themselves, stand out from the midst of their classmates but also because they almost always have a mother, father, or grandparent who encourages them to work hard and who shows up for parent/teacher conferences, who accepts responsibility as partners in the education of their children, and who support the teachers of their children.

More than anything teachers and schools can do it is the partnership of these remarkable caregivers and the motivation of their sons and daughters that are the difference makers in education. Add a dedicated teacher to the equation and magical things happen and it makes not the slightest difference whether buildings and classrooms in which these forces come together are modern or antiquated. Modern, attractive, and well-designed facilities might help but they are not the difference-makers in education.
Somehow, we need to carry a message to all mothers, fathers, and caregivers that their children can benefit from the same magic.

We acknowledge that this is not an easy sell and it is especially difficult if all we have to offer these skeptical guardians is the same dysfunctional educational process from which they emerged, battered, bruised, and beaten. Somehow, we must offer these parents and their children something new and exciting.

Here again, Ravitch comes so tantalizingly close to the secret. She recognizes that “what works are the very opportunities that advantaged families provide for their children.” She goes on to identify “. . . with adequate resources, children get advantages that enable them to arrive in school healthy and ready to learn.” And she mentions the importance of “Discerning, affluent parents demand schools with full curricula, experienced staffs, rich programs in the arts, libraries, well maintained campuses, and small classes.”

These few sentences point to the incredibly subtle yet profound logical leap that diverts us from the truth. We allow ourselves to get hung up on the importance of “affluence” when the relative economic status of families is almost totally inconsequential.

What is most important is that these parents demand substance and, to a lesser extent, that they have been taught to “discern” the difference between things that are consequential from those that are not. Yes, affluence makes life easier for both parents and children but the percentage of children who do well in school with parents who care and accept responsibility will be far higher than the percentage of students who do well because their parents are affluent.

Most important of all is the idea of parents demanding excellence. We do not demand things that we do not value no matter how affluent we might be. Neither will we value things that seem unimaginable or impossible. Without hope and faith, the power to create our own outcomes will elude us.

It is absolutely improbable to believe that we can give every parent in the U.S. the affluence to create an advantage for their children. We have neither the resources nor the necessary mechanics to make such things happen. We do have the power, however, to do something that is even more important. Even if it is too late for the parents, we can help every mother, father, and legal guardian learn how to hope; to believe in the possibility of something better for their children. Although it would certainly help to have sufficient resources at our disposal, all we really require are two things, 1) the willingness to believe that giving hope is possible, and 2) the commitment to make it happen.
Hope, faith, confidence, commitment, energy, determination, and momentum—as powerful as they can be—can melt into a puddle of self-doubt and timidity if not rewarded, consistently. Somehow we must create a reality in which our children can learn how to be successful. In the business world, we structure organizations to produce the results we need. In education, the process is structured with a focus on failure.

Ravitch identifies the importance of setting age-appropriate goals; blending work and play, art and academics; creating an intimate learning environment in which students get the attention they need; limiting focus on testing to diagnostics to determine next steps; and rejecting the concept of judging educators on the basis of test scores. While all are worthy objectives, the system as it is currently structured is not set up to support these priorities.

If we are to have any chance of turning our systems of education around so that our nation can compete in the ever-more demanding world marketplace of the Twenty-first Century we must change the way we think about education. With a new vision in place, we must re-structure the educational process to:

• Establish pulling parents into the process as full partners with the teachers of their children as our top priority;
• Assess the unique starting point of every child that arrives at the door of our schools;
• Tailor a unique educational path for each child;
• Commit to helping these children progress along that path at the best speed of which they are capable;
• Never push them ahead before they are well-prepared to be successful on subsequent subject matter;
• Abandon our senseless practice of expecting children to move forward at the same pace and measuring their performance against the performance of other classmates,
• Commit to teaching these children that success is a process which each of them can master,
• Eliminate reliance on standardized competency examinations given once a year, in favor of small quizzes given often throughout the school year to assess not only their mastery of the material but also their readiness to move on,
• Create a structure that makes it easier for teachers to forge close, long-term, personal relationships with both students and parents.

Each of these things is possible if only we structure the educational process in a manner that fosters these objectives. In Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream, I offer the reader a detailed action plan to accomplish these and other objectives designed to transform our educational process while preserving the important relationships between schools and their community.

As I go back to reread Diane Ravitch’s, Reign of Error, I will continue to review the work using a journaled approach offering an ongoing commentary. You are cordially invited to follow along.

“Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream” a review by Grady Harp, a Top 50 Reviewer

‘Our goal is to re-infuse faith and hope in the American Dream into the hearts and minds of every American parent and child.’, October 31, 2013

This review is from: Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America (Kindle Edition)

Mel Hawkins opens his impressive while staggeringly factual book REINVENTING EDUCATION, HOPE AND THE AMERICAN DREAM with the following words: ‘The world is in the midst of unprecedented economic, political, cultural, technological, sociological, and ecological changes that will forever transform human society. One of the drivers of American preeminence has been our systems of public education that gave the United States the most well-educated and productive workforce on the planet. As we enter the second decade of the Twenty-first Century, the U.S. is like a professional sports franchise that has seen the quality of its player development program languish over a period of years. That our competitors in the international arena are placing the education of their children at the top of their priority list while the American educational system remains a relic of times past has tragic consequences for Americans and our way of life.’ He quietly states facts, that millions of Americans have become disenfranchised and have lost hope in the American dream, given up on finding meaningful employment, accepted the fact that they and their children have little access to quality healthcare, and ‘they are chewed up and spit out by the American educational process’ – education becoming a ticket to nowhere.

The fortunate aspect of his observations is that Hawkins believes that since our educational system is the failing nidus of our current dismay, then addressing our educational system to correct the flaws provides a pathway for changing many of the frustrating, even terrifying aspects of our current status. A first objective is to alter our educational system to focus on success, on that prepares your youth for the unique challenges of living in the 21st century. Another pathway is to study and diagnose why our students are underperforming, and when that knowledge is available to us we must re-think our current status and use of system of education to unite Americans and re-infuse faith and hope in the American Dream. He is against compulsory education: our youths value the things they choose, not the things fostered upon them in an arbitrary and hap-hazard manner. If learning were the true goal of schools, common sense would tell us to evaluate current status and build from there. As one critic phrased it, ‘all work is honorable and all humans are uniquely designed to function in ways that benefit the entire society. The student who likes to tinker with machines and is not at all interested in literature should not be held in less esteem at school than the lit student. The larger social system will value some skills more than others and will obviously pay more for those skills, but the culture has to find a way to communicate to its young that the guy that gets your plumbing right enhances the quality of your life just as much as the mayor of your city.’ Hawkins mentions some of the ‘causes’ for our current failed educational system – poverty, bad teachers, outdated facilities and technology, curriculum, race and ethnicity, student behavior, fractured families – and lets us know that the facts that must be examined to change our current system are Compulsory education and the fact that unmotivated students are allowed to be a disruptive influence on students who want to learn and teachers who are striving to teach, Teacher accountability and the trust between teachers and parents, The way we structure our schools and group children in classrooms, together, The way we identify an educational path for our children and then direct them down that path, The way we utilize teachers and facilitate their ability to teach and interact with students and their parents, Our current educational system’s focus on failure, Protecting children from humiliation, Homework, practice, and the manner in which we deal with the mistakes our students make, The way we assess a student’s level of competency over the subject matter within the context of educational standards, The allocation of scarce resources to serve our mission to the optimal advantage, and The effectiveness with which we utilize the technology of the Twenty-first Century. ‘We must involve the entire community.’

This is one of the more important books to be released this year and certainly MUST be read by all who have fears of the current status of our educational system. This book is a brilliant achievement.

Another 5 Star Review for Reinventing Education Hope and the American Dream!

An invaluable resource for anyone with an interest or passion in improving education., October 28, 2013
Jay Mittener

This review is from: Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America (Kindle Edition)
This book “Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America” is nothing short of brilliant. This book is exactly what everyone needs to read and understand about the state and future of our nation. Our standards of living, our income potential, our successes and ability to advance on life are all directly related to the education we received in this country.

It’s very eye opening and honestly very scary to see how little education is valued in today’s society and the reasons behind it. We are a nation who have slowly lost faith in our own systems and in our own ideals and truths. We are no longer seeing ourselves as a land of opportunity because we were not given, and we are not giving our children the educational tools needed to realize the American dream.

Hawkins is brilliant- He is saying the hard things, he is opening eyes and he is doing it in a way that is logical, easy to understand and will incite a passion in you to change the way we view education and it’s importance in this nation.