Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time: The Hawkins Model© – The First Twenty Pages

Chapter 1  – See How Different Classrooms Could Be   

Over the last half century or more, the education process at work in our nation’s classrooms has grown dysfunctional and impedes rather than supports the work of teachers and students. The evidence of the inefficacy of the existing education process is overwhelming and compelling. The purpose of this book is to introduce a new education model that will transform education in the U.S. in a way that will allow it to work for both our teachers and all children, not just a fortunate few.

The title The Hawkins Model© has been selected because it allows me to retain the rights of authorship. This model will be made available, for free, to any publicly funded or faith-based school or school district willing to put the model to the test in one of its struggling elementary schools, of which there are many. The only revenue I hope to generate will be royalties from this book, after publication, with a great deal of help from each of you.       

The book has been written in the first person as it is a personal request from me to you to join me in bringing this vision to life. I ask readers to examine the model, not in search of reasons why it might not work, rather to imagine what it would be like to teach and learn in such an innovative learning environment.

Please note that an earlier version of The Hawkins Model© was introduced in 2013 in my first book on education.[1] The book was not widely read. Since then, it has been promoted on Twitter (pre-X) and a few of the educators who have taken the time to review it have embraced it, enthusiastically. Many educators, particularly teachers, are so immersed in their schools and classrooms it is not easy to envision any other way to do what they do. This work will introduce a much more complete look at the model.  Appendices will be utilized to make more detailed presentations of some of the data or expand the scope of discussions, at the reader’s discretion.

At the outset, I want to make my view of teachers clear. Our nation’s professional teachers are not the reason for the problems in education in the U.S. or why so many of our children struggle to achieve academic success. Teachers are unsung American heroes who deserve our support and admiration for the essential work they do for our children.

Our teachers are victims of our flawed education process every bit as much as their students. Let it be known that teachers are the glue that holds a flawed education process together. All the good things that have happened to our students throughout the past several decades are because of the dedicated effort of these professional educators. They are given too narrow of a lane, however, to meet the needs of our nation’s diverse population of children.

Public education is under attack by the “school choice” movement and until public school educators step back and examine what is happening in our schools, the flow of resources being siphoned out of the coffers of community public schools will continue. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of charter schools, many are not performing as well as the community public schools they were established to replace, which I will illustrate later. This should come as no surprise as many if not most charters rely on the same flawed education process this book has been written to replace.

There is no doubt there are excellent charter schools just as there are exemplary community public schools. What they have in common is they rely on the same education process but work with students who are well prepared for academic success. The challenge is there are many more of both public schools and charters schools in which students struggle. It is my assertion they need not struggle at all. What teachers in those schools have in common is they work with students who are poorly prepared for academic success and are unable to overcome the challenges that our flawed education process presents to students and teachers. This is true for many reasons, as I will discuss often throughout this book.

As important as that may be, another crucial issue with respect to charters is the logistical improbability the promoters of such schools will ever be able to create enough charter schools to meet the needs of fifty to sixty million American school children. The operative question is, are we committed to educating only a portion of our nation’s children or do we have an obligation to all, now and into the future?

The longer we allow resources to be drained from community public schools, however, the more difficult it will be for those schools to serve the needs of our nation’s most valuable and vulnerable assets and the more likely it will dismantle the whole concept of public education. It is understood that public education has left itself open to attack, but it still provides the best venue in which to fix what does not work. The “school choice” movement threatens to dismantle as system in which Americans have invested tens of trillions of dollars over the last several decades.

More compelling yet is that removing control of important government functions from the hands of the people and placing it the hands of individuals and groups pursuing their vested interests is contrary to the principles of a democratic society.

Somehow public education must recapture the faith of the American people that it truly is “the pathway to the American Dream”—sadly, a dream that no longer feels real in the hearts and minds of far too many Americans. Recapturing the confidence of the American people is the purpose for which The Hawkins Model© model was created.

We cannot reclaim the allegiance of the American people by relying on a structure and process that consistently fails to produce the outcomes our nation requires. What I recommend  is that we follow the lead of business and industry, not by letting business leaders run our schools, but rather by introducing shiny new products of significantly greater value to their customers and then market them aggressively. This is how many new products and services capture market share and the imagination of consumers. The Hawkins Model© is, I submit, that shiny new product. If the American people can rally around a brand-new idea that will transform education in America, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Ironically, if the supporters of public education can succeed in such a venture, and I am confident we can, the “school choice” movement will have fulfilled its purpose. It will have helped push public education to elevate its game. Public schools must provide the highest possible quality of education to American children and do so equitably. This will give our nation’s parents a true “school choice.”

The First Step in the Presentation of our New Model

Our biggest challenge is to entice educators, whatever their level, role, or venue to be willing to believe a transformation of education is possible. Our professional teachers, administrators, and education policymakers have found it difficult to step outside the context of the traditional education process and their conceptual classrooms to examine my education model as an integral whole. Many cannot envision how the changes I am recommending can possibly work in their classrooms. “It sounds too good to be true,” many of them say and thus they find it easy to dismiss. The most common response from teachers is “I cannot find time to do everything my students need of me, today. How can there possibly be time to do everything your model expects of us?”

I encourage these good people to give me the opportunity to show them. Please considerer that innovative solutions, often, can only be found outside the boundaries of conventional wisdom.

 Many of you may be familiar with a creative thinking exercise that I have long known as “The Nine Dots.” It is an exercise that has been around for many years and that I have utilized in the many positive leadership seminars I conducted throughout my career. In Appendix I – A Lesson in Exponential Thinking we will illustrate how a solution to the problem represented by the nine dots, and many other challenges, including transforming public education, cannot be found or even envisioned until we step outside the illusory square/box formed by the nine dots. Its purpose is to illustrate how many more solutions are waiting to be discovered outside the boundaries of conventional thinking—thinking outside the box.

Our nation’s teachers and administrators are encouraged to make a paradigm leap—also a leap of faith—to open their hearts and minds to a new idea, just as they encourage their students to do. Think about how many aspects of life in America have undergone a transformation in the last few decades. Why would we choose to think a transformation of education is impossible?

In just a few more pages, I will provide a glimpse of what The Hawkins Model© will look like when implemented in our classrooms but, first, I must illustrate what needs to be fixed. The best way to accomplish this is to examine what teachers see in their classrooms, daily, as this is the most powerful evidence of the inefficacy of the education process with which teachers and their students must deal.

As you examine this exhibit please do so within the context of the first two of the many assertions and assumptions on which this book is predicated. The first is,

Whenever a process continues to produce unacceptable outcomes no matter how hard people work or how qualified they are, the problem rests with the process itself, and it must be reimagined and reinvented.

The second, is,

            It is only when we stop blaming others and accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.

Other assertions and assumptions that I believe provide the philosophical and logical foundation for this work will be highlighted as they appear above and will be listed in Appendix II – Assertions and Assumptions. These are what I think of as bridges to understanding.

What do Teachers See in their Classrooms, Daily?

In addition to being the most compelling evidence of the inefficacy of the American education process, what teachers see in their classrooms illustrates many of the things that must be fixed if we are to transform education.

No one can truly understand what goes on in our nation’s classrooms unless they have done their time—having spent time in one. Those who have not spent time in the classroom do not see the dedication and commitment of teachers, nor do they see the frustration these professionals feel when they are swimming against the currents of 21st Century life.

Once we examine this exhibit I will offer a glimpse of what The Hawkins Model© will look like when implemented in our classrooms.

Teachers know the education process is dysfunctional every time they see the cavernous disparity in the levels of academic preparedness and emotional development of students as they arrive for their first day of kindergarten.

Teachers know the process is inadequate when there is no meaningful strategy to acclimatize their students to what, for many, can be a frightening new world at one of the most vulnerable periods in their young lives. Our teachers know they have little opportunity to provide the time and attention their students need and that developing nurturing relationships with their students, while at or near the top of their priority list, is one of too many priorities with too many students with more needs with which any one teacher can be expected to deal. We will talk more about the primacy of relationships.

When the classroom is filled with anywhere from 25 to 35 students on the first day of school, the expectation is that all students will be instructed according to lesson plans that have been developed pursuant to the academic standards of their state and that have been approved by their principals and superintendents. Teachers know the process is flawed when there is no expectation or tool in place to assess where each child is best prepared to begin their lifelong learning adventure.

What do students know and what can they do? Some may be reading. Others may or may not know their letters and numbers. Many others may not have learned their colors and may be behind in the development of an array of skills children must acquire. Where should we start our work with them to ensure they are moving forward at the cusp of their learning threshold? How do we make certain we do not push these children too far and too fast?

Our schools have been relying on the education process and teaching children the same way for so long, teachers have had to learn how to set aside the nagging feeling that marching students, as a class, from one lesson to the next, according to the schedules embedded in academic standards, is too fast for many students and too slow for others. I have heard teachers say, “these kids need more time, but I have none to give.” Not being able to keep up or being forced to slow down for their classmates discourages some students and frustrates most.

The professional men and women given the responsibility for a classroom know the education process is ineffectual when there is neither an expectation, strategy, nor process in place to tailor an academic plan to meet the unique needs of individual kids. Without such a plan how can teachers guide each child from the point at which we find them to where each needs to go? Academic standards provide clear expectations of what it is believed students should be able to accomplish by the end of this first year of school and each year, thereafter, as if it is a realistic expectation for all students.

Policy makers must understand that teaching kids, in at least one respect, is akin to a golf shot. The farther down the fairway the ball must travel the more exaggerated are the consequences of flaws in the misalignment of the golfer’s body, the speed and arc of the swing, the angle of the face of the clubhead, and the fraction of the micrometers away from the sweet spot on the club face where it struck the ball.

What seem like minute variations in how we apply a teacher’s craft can make an enormous difference as teachers strive to prepare the minds, character, and bodies of our students to move down the fairways of this most crucial thirteen years of a youngster’s life. The process leaves far too much to chance when we fill classrooms to overflowing, beyond the point where what even our best teachers can do will be enough.

The pressure to keep students gathered along the path set out by academic standards is relentless. After every lesson, teachers know the process is flawed when it is time to move their class along to a next lesson, in any of the subject areas they must cover, fully aware that a portion of their students still struggle to comprehend. They know many children in their classroom have not acquired the pre-requisite knowledge they will need to be successful on subsequent material.

When there are worksheets to exchange and grade in class, or graded tests and quizzes to return to students, teachers know understanding one’s mistakes is one of the most important keys to learning but, after every lesson and test there are always more mistakes by more students than teachers have time to address.

Our teachers know the process is not structured to focus on success when the purpose of tests and other assignments is more focused on determining the appropriate letter grade to signify how a student’s scores rank among classmates, than it is about learning. Whether they think about it consciously or just know intuitively, it is apparent  to many the education process is structured like a competition in which some students succeed, and others do not. The grades recorded provide incontrovertible evidence that the education process is focused, not on the best each child can do but rather on the best kids can do in the allotted time when measured against the achievement of others.

Teachers know that rather than determining a grade, the appropriate use of quizzes and tests should be to identify what progress the students have made, whether they require more time and attention to gain comprehension of lessons, and on what subject matter to focus. These assessments are the quality systems of education, but we rarely use them for that purpose, nor do we take the appropriate corrective action. It appears that, even though we have gathered specific information about where our students struggle, policy makers have made no provisions to remediate? Is this consistent with the purpose of an education?

Teachers know the process is dysfunctional when they reach the midpoint of the second semester and must divert their attention to prepare students for state competency examinations. They know that for students who have been unable to attain subject-matter mastery throughout much if not all the school year, no amount of cramming will assure success.

Educators know at the end of the school year there are children with whom they have been unable to forge the nurturing relationships those students need. Teachers know that even what relationships they have been able to develop will soon be severed at the end of the year based on decades of a tradition of marching to arbitrary cadences. This represents one more lost opportunity for the child.

Teachers are very much aware the process will recommence in the fall when their  students will move on to a teacher whom they may be meeting for the first time. They know this because they are anticipating the same challenge for their own incoming students. It is just one more example where the needs of students are unmet. Only a few of these youngsters will be fortunate to forge the special relationships from which academic success and emotional growth benefits. The needs of these kids are sacrificed by the education process to serve the interests of operational convenience and efficiency, as well as compliance and conformance. 

What teachers may not realize is the malaise they feel, at various times in a school year, is the absence of any sense of accomplishment and affirmation of their own efforts. Teachers need to experience success every bit as much as their students and celebrating success provides validation for students and teachers alike. How could any of us deal, daily, with the frustration of not being given the time and resources necessary to complete much of the important work we are given and, therefore, are unable to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from a job well done?

Teachers know the system is failing, each new school year, when they must begin anew, striving to develop relationships with too many new students, many of whom are poorly prepared for the work that awaits them and when this is repeated, annually. This defect is most notable when the previous year’s fifth graders arrive in middle school and the previous year’s eighth grade students move on to high school. Far too many students are less prepared for each succeeding transition than they were for the preceding one.

For teachers, the lack of readiness of their students is highlighted late in the second semester of any given school year, when an administrator asks them whether a student is ready to be passed on to the next grade level. Teachers know the process is flawed when, in the second semester of a student’s senior year, they are asked to find a way to help students earn credits so they can graduate with their classmates, when those students have made a minimal effort over the course of the previous four years.

In these situations, which happen far more often than outsiders can imagine, our schools are scrambling to give themselves justification for graduating students, rather than striving to assure their students qualify for graduation and are well-prepared for life after high school. This is one reason graduation rates are the least meaningful measure of success for schools, teachers, and students. Critics must understand graduation rates tell us nothing about the quality of effort given by teachers and little about how much graduates have learned and how well.

Finally, teachers try not to think about the challenges these young men and women will face when they take possession of what, for many, are meaningless documents when they walk across the stage at graduation.

If only teachers, principals, and, most of all, superintendents, were given an opportunity to see how poorly their graduates will do when they seek admission to and struggle to perform in their college or vocational classrooms; when they struggle to pass the ASVAB to qualify for enlistment in the military; or when they report for their first day of work poorly prepared to do the job, assuming they were fortunate to find one for which they were qualified. These are things employers and recruiters see, routinely and about which many educators are unaware. These are things I have witnessed my whole career. These are the unacceptable outcomes that drive advocates of “school choice.”   

Defenders of public education want to believe advocates for charters and vouchers are driven by a desire for profits. As many such advocates come from a business background, making a profit is always part of their motivation. There are much easier ways to make money than starting charter schools, however. What these advocates want is a widening pool of talented and capable young people to draw upon to help satisfy customers and if they can make a profit in the process it is only good business.

If educators would ask, what employers will say, irrespective of venue, is it is not just academic knowledge that is lacking. Many students are equally deficient in their self-discipline; willingness to make an acceptable effort to do a job well; make a personal commitment to the mission, vision, and values of their organization; and, most of all, accept responsibility for meeting or exceeding the needs of customers.  Many of these new employees have spent a good deal of the previous thirteen years learning how to do just enough to get by—that less than their best is acceptable.

These are the characteristics that lead critics to blame our schools, our teachers, and their unions. These things will continue until the defenders of public education go on the offensive and direct attention to the flaws in the education process that are at the root of the struggles of teachers and students alike. Educators must recognize that our students are doing the same thing we would do if rarely, if ever, we were given the time we require to learn what we need to know to be successful.

The frustration teachers feel, and the burnout that threatens to drive them out of the profession are consequences of the disillusioning experiences educators are forced to endure. Teachers who leave their profession do so because they have grown weary of doing the best the education process allows them to do and not getting acceptable outcomes. Their students were permitted to learn too many lessons badly and too few well. Teachers are weary of being asked to do things that cannot and will not succeed.

Non-teachers reading these words are often thinking, “why don’t teachers say something to someone?” “Why don’t they pound on their desks?”

The answer is so many of them do, especially in their first few years of teaching. Teachers express their frustrations over the inefficacy of the education process every time they meet with their administrators to talk about students whose needs are not being met, or attend union or association meetings, or even when sitting across from a colleague in the faculty break room. How many years does it take before these dedicated professionals give in to the futility of complaining, and relent to the inevitable? Is it one, five, ten, or twenty years?

What our teachers and principals discover, at a point in the early portions of their careers, is the intransigence of the American education process and of its leaders and policy makers. Later we will offer evidence to affirm these assertions from multiple perspectives. Taken as a whole, the evidence of the inefficacy of the education process could not be more compelling.

What follows is a preview of how The Hawkins Model© is designed to address the issues we have identified and follow that up by sharing what I observed in one middle school classroom in a diverse public school district. This was an opportunity to try a different approach and that led to the reimagination of the education process.

What Will This New Model Look Like and How Will it Work?

The first difference teachers and other educators will see upon examination of The Hawkins Model© is that every aspect of our model is constructed around our belief in the primacy of relationships. We believe the value of everything in life is a function of the quality of our relationships with the people in our lives. So why would that not be true for students and their teachers.” When it comes to five-year old children arriving for their first day of kindergarten there is nothing more essential to their academic and emotional growth and development than close nurturing and sustained relationships with their teachers. This is equally true for students in first through fifth grades. Healthy, affirming relationships teachers are able to develop with parents and classmates are also essential but, in the classroom, as we will discuss later, such relationships will flow through our students’ relationships with their teachers. To pull parents in they must see changes in their child.

Restructure and Reorganize Classrooms, Teachers, and Students to Focus on Relationships

We begin by discontinuing the practice, beginning in kindergarten, of placing one teacher in a single classroom with somewhere between 25 to 35 students—usually closer to 35—for a single school year. Under The Hawkins Model© we will adopt a new strategy of assigning a team of three teachers to a single classroom with a total of no more than 45 students. Impossible, some of you are thinking? We will come back to this in just a few pages.

Because these relationships must be enduring, if they are to meet both the emotional and academic needs of our children—our nation’s most precious assets—teachers and students will remain together, as a class, from kindergarten until they are ready to move on to what we now refer to as sixth grade or middle school. Participating schools will, however, be given some discretion over swapping out the teaching team from the first three years with a new team of teachers who may be more experienced in teaching subject matter at a higher grade level. This is not a decision that should be made lightly but we feel by the end of a class’s first three years, their teachers will be in well-positioned to recommend whether such a swap would be in the best interests of their students.

We see no benefit in breaking up the class unless the community of a particular classroom is coming apart at the seams. The justification for such a decision must be calculated according to whether or not it creates a strategic benefit for students. We do not believe the emotions of children should be trifled with, arbitrarily.  

The bottom line is, if the key to learning is quality relationships, it must be the expectation for all students, without exception. Teachers are asked to think about what percentage of your favorites students—the kids with whom you have had the best relationships over the course of your careers—were also your best students, academically. This correlation is not a coincidence. Also think about how few of the students with whom you had the best relationships were unsuccessful, academically or were disruptive, behaviorally.

Teaching to Academic Standards

Although teachers will still be required to teach to academic standards—and in acknowledgment of the millions of children who are not keeping pace and meeting the expectations identified in those standards—we will disregard what we believe to be the arbitrary schedules and timetables embedded in a given state’s academic standards. If we move students along as a class, all with the same expectations, it will be too fast for many kids, and too slow for others. Usually there are many more of the latter than there are of the former. No one wins in such situations.

No longer will we have two semesters to prepare kindergarten students for first grade. We will have twelve semesters to prepare them for middle school, six additional semesters to prepare them for high school, and another eight semesters to prepare them for graduation. As we will say, repeatedly, learning is the only thing that counts and the only thing that should be counted and, once a child learns, how long it took them becomes inconsequential.

Convert Time from a Fixed Asset that Constrains to a Variable Asset

To relieve teachers and students of the requirement to utilize time as a fixed asset, parceled out in measured segments, we will convert time to a variable resource, available to teachers and students in whatever quantities each requires. Just as kids learn to walk and talk at a pace dictated by their brains and bodies, kids do not all learn academic subject matter at the same pace or in the same way. The same is true with their emotional development. Some need more time than others. Once again, learning is the only thing that counts. Time is important only to the degree to which it serves the purpose of students and their teachers.

Addressing the Disparity in the Academic Preparedness and Emotional Development

We also know the disparity in academic preparedness and emotional development of children arriving for their first day of kindergarten is cavernous. To teach them, effectively, we must have a reasonable level of understanding of what our students know and what they have not yet learned. During the first weeks and months of kindergarten, the focus of teachers must be on developing relationships with students, helping students get to know one another and feel comfortable as members of their classroom community, and learning where each child needs to commence his or her academic and emotional journey.  

Teachers will utilize their skills and experience, along with any appropriate instruments of academic and emotional assessment available to them, and interactions with and observations of our students during play, and while they learn the initial lessons we offer. This will help the team assess each student’s level of academic preparedness and emotional development. We must strive to understand what each child needs to get off to a successful start. That knowledge and understanding gained will be utilized by teachers to tailor an academic and emotional development plan to the unique needs of each student; a plan that is focused on building one successful learning experience on top of another.

            Given how controversial they have become, we want to distinguish between Individualized Education Plans (IEP) used with special needs students and the Tailored Academic Plans envisioned in our model. They are distinct instruments used for different purposes.

Instruction and Learning with a Focus on Success

            Utilizing academic standards and the tailored academic plans of each student as a guide, teachers will prepare and utilize lesson plans to instruct students on subject matter. After the presentation, teachers will use their students’ mistakes on practice assignments, quizzes, and tests as learning opportunities just as they strive to do, today. The problem under the existing education process and its adherence to a schedule, is that although teachers do their best, there are always more mistakes by more students than teachers have time to address. The mistakes of students are learning opportunities that must not be squandered.

Quizzes and tests will be used solely to determine a student’s readiness to move on to a next lesson not to determine a grade to be awarded. The expectation will be that teachers will not settle for less than the best students can do or push kids on to new lessons before they are ready, which we define as having acquired the prerequisite knowledge prior lessons were intended to provide.

            Students who have not yet acquired the prerequisite knowledge needed for success in subsequent lessons must be given additional instruction, more attention, and more time to practice and learn from their mistakes. When a student appears to be ready, he or she will be offered “do-over” opportunities on quizzes and tests—again not for the purpose of determining a grade or to evaluate his or her performance against the achievement of classmates, rather to assess whether they have attained proficiency in subject matter and are ready to move on with appropriate prerequisite knowledge. The success of each student must be documented for each student’s official academic record. These are the laboratories in which the art of teaching is practiced.

We will talk often about proficiency, which is one of the targeted achievement levels developed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)[2], which is part of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)[3] established by the U.S. Department of EducationThe NAEP defines proficiency as:

“Having a demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to subject matter.”

Essentially,  proficiency implies that students have a sufficient understanding of subject matter so each student can utilize it throughout life, whether on future quizzes and tests, state competency exams given once per year, seeking qualification for enrollment and enjoying success in college or other education programs such as vocational training; qualifying for a job and being able to perform the work expected of them, and demonstrating eligibility for enlistment in the military services, to name the most obvious.

Building Solid Foundations

            Our objective with each of our students must be to help them construct solid academic and emotional foundations on which they can pursue whatever dreams and aspirations they will choose for themselves, provide for themselves and their families, and participate in their own governance. Just as a mason assures each brick meets our specifications and is properly laid, teachers must be both expected and allowed to ensure each lesson provides our students with the prerequisite knowledge it was intended to impart.

This requires that students receive whatever time and attention they need in every lesson presented to them. Teachers and students, today, exist in a reality in which expectations for students and teachers are unrealistic because of the way the existing education process is structured, staffed, tasked, and resourced. This is an example of how the American education process has become disconnected from its purpose. What we will be striving for, is to address the greatest irony in the field of education, which is that “learning is fun for kids until they begin school.” It is never fun to be in a situation where success is improbable or impractical. Failing and losing are not fun and cannot be viewed as an acceptable outcome.

How Will We Measure Success?

            We will measure academic success against two standards. The first is against “proficient,” which is having the ability to use in life what one has learned in school. Although somewhat arbitrary, we are proposing that, as a general practice, a score of eighty-five percent or more on any type of assessment be considered the threshold for successful learning. Additionally, a student’s progress will be measured against each student’s own past performance. What we reject, categorically, is measuring the achievement of students against the success of others.

            Rather than recording letter grades, we are looking for both evidence of a student’s ability to demonstrate success in lessons and also of gradual acceleration of the pace of learning. Their success must be noted and celebrated. There are no negative scores. As with every aspect of the practice and development of their craft, teachers will be encouraged to investigate new methods of recognition of success. They must have not only the freedom to innovate but the expectation of innovation, which is one of the essential purposes of our model. 

How Can We Afford to Add Teachers?

            One of the other concerns expressed by teachers who are skeptical of the viability of my model is how we will be able to afford the increase in the number of teachers needed to staff the model in our reconfigured classrooms. Today, finding significant new funding for public schools is problematic, so badly has the public’s faith in community public schools eroded.  

Indiana provides a useful example. Because of its loss of faith in public schools, Indiana officials are making a significant investment in its “school choice” tuition voucher program. This demonstrates a willingness to spend money on something people believe will make a difference. What we must strive to do is give them an alternate choice of something that will make a bigger difference. Consider the investment relative to the number of students that will benefit.

In an article in Indiana Capital Chronicle dated April 27, 2023[4] it was reported that Indiana spends over $241 million in tuition subsidies so that 53,500 students can attend private schools at a cost of $4,512 per student. The number of students participating in the program is expected to increase to 95,000 by 2025, at a cost of $600 million or $6,315 per student. Our question is, if any state’s faith in public schools was reclaimed, “what would be the impact of those same investments on community public schools and their students?”

If Indiana, for example, were to invest that same $241.4 million in community public schools it could implement The Hawkins Model© in two kindergarten classrooms in each of 1,236 elementary schools thus benefitting over 111,000[5] students (90 students X 1,236 schools). By 2025, Indiana’s planned investment of $600 million could fund the expansion of the model as first year students move on to second and third years, plus two waves of new first year students who will be filling in behind. That amount of money would enable us to serve over a quarter-of-a-million students.

Given that the total number of kindergarten through fifth grade students in Indiana is somewhere between 500,000  to 550,000[6], the $600 million Indiana plans to spend on vouchers for 95,000 students in 2025 would cover the implementation of The Hawkins Model© in enough classrooms to serve approximately 275,000 students or virtually one half of Indiana’s elementary school population.  I will let the reader come to their own conclusion as to which of the two choices is the best investment for the people of the Hoosier State.

Essentially, it is the difference between addressing the symptoms of the problems in public education, which is the case today, or address the root causes, which are the flaws that can be found in Indiana’s and America’s education process. It is my assertion that it is always better to address the underlying pathology than it is to focus only on treating symptoms.

In that same article in the Indiana Capital Chronicle[7], Representative Phil Giaquinta, D – Fort Wayne,  (The House Minority Leader) is quoted as saying, “This budget is a handout for the state’s wealthiest families and individuals. Most people think that state subsidies go to the poor, but in the GOP supermajority they go to top earners.”

Looking at the big picture, we also have two choices, if we stop to think about it. First, do we make the necessary investment in teachers to implement The Hawkins Model© to provide the highest possible quality of education to our nation’s children—an investment in the nation’s intellectual infrastructure,in order to prepare our children for the responsibilities of citizenship? Or, do we spend comparable amounts to support the dependencies of young citizens who leave high school without the skills needed to fulfill their responsibilities? I believe it truly is an either/or proposition. Public education must do what all producers of new commercial products and services do. The people to whom we must appeal are consumers of education. We must give them something new, about which they can be excited . We must also consider that a quality education is our society’s intellectual infrastructure. We will not get to the future for which we are striving over the rickety bridge that represents education in America. The Hawkins Model© is that new and exciting product that will solidify the integrity of our society’s community public schools  which represents that intellectual infrastructure.

[1] Hawkins, Mel, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America, CreateSpace and Kindle platforms through, 2013

[2] The Nation’s Report Card | NAEP (

[3] National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education and is a non-partisan agency that exists for no other purpose than to monitor the quality of education in the U.S.

[4] Indiana nears universal ‘school choice’ in new budget – Indiana Capital Chronicle (April 27, 2023)