Public Education is not dead- It’s just terribly Offline

An Educational Template That Works

Take an ordinary, blank 3" x 5" index card. Using a pair scissors cut the card to create a shape you like — cut off the corners, cut one side in a wavy pattern, make a blob whatever you like until you come up with a unique shape.

Now take a permanent marker and write on the unlined side of the card “What Is Best for the Students” and laminate it. You have now created a template for educational decisions and perhaps the most valuable tool you’ll ever have in your educational career toolkit. It works equally well for teachers, principals, administrators, superintendents, directors, board members and parents [you will note I differentiate between principals and administrators and between superintendents and directors; more on this in later articles]

I can’t remember who introduced me to the concept of a template or if hearing something else I came up with the idea on my own, but I do know it has easily become the most reliable tool for making educational decisions I have ever come across. Any time I’ve had to make a decision in the field of education I hold up my template “What Is Best for the Students” and look at the fit

- Should billions of dollars be spent on a new central office administration complex by “redirecting” money currently being used to maintain and operate schools? Hold up the template: the answer is no — then don’t do it!

- Should all high school teachers be required to take part in leading some type of extracurricular activity so that they see their students in an environment outside the classroom? Hold up the template: the answer is yes — then do it!

- Should a State/Provincial Department Of Education roll out new mandatory programs and expect schools to fund the necessary textbooks and teaching materials out of their own dwindling budgets? Hold up the template: the answer is no — then don’t do it!

A very simple concept when you think about it; some would say too simple. But if we are truly interested in what is best for the student it is also very powerful because it eliminates the many shades of gray thinking and excuse making that people use for doing things that are, at their very core, detrimental to the education and welfare of the student.

For far too long managers in education, be they teachers, parents, administrators, trustees etc. have found ways to do things “for the good of children” that are fundamentally wrong and usually self-serving. Bad enough that they carry out the activity, but to wave the banner “for the good of children” over the activity in an attempt at misdirection not unlike a master sleight-of-hand artist, is even more reprehensible. The template allows us, as in the Wizard of Oz, to pull back the curtain and see what is truly behind the Wizard’s performance.

Naysayers will claim that educational decisions, and their situations in particular, are far more complex than such a simple black and white solution can handle. My response is that any situation, once it is brought down to its bare bones, is just this simple.

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