This blog post is related to the events of December 13. Tragically, the events of December 14 in Connecticut make thoughts of almost anything other than the horror of this Friday morning momentarily irrelevant. Our hearts and prayers go out to the innocent victims who went off to school this morning never to return. Schools must be safe, nurturing places of learning, and for the most part, they are. But tragedy and evil exist; when they visit our schools, there is a sense of even greater outrage that something this unconscionable could happen, especially to such young children. May God have mercy on us all and comfort all who mourn.
Now for the post related to last night's BHSD Board of Education meeting...
Nothing is more important than the future of our children’s education and the well being of the Bloomfield Hills Schools. The forces at work right now in our state legislature have a good start at dismantling public education, removing all local control, and depriving taxpaying citizens of their rights to own what they paid for and to determine their own destiny. We have to show that we are leaders in meeting the needs of every student, and as such, we stand ready to help in the overall plan for improving educational opportunities for all children in our state. But a one size fits all solution will not work.
As a former member of the education profession, I can assure you that teachers lose sleep at night trying to think of ways to solve deficiencies and to help all children achieve growth. I know that in our school district we are finding ways to better identify and then improve in the areas showing lack of growth or success.
But here is something the folks who want to improve schools with failing educational outcomes don’t consider: the biggest predictor of student failure is poverty. Reform plans can throw money at a problem, but they can’t cure poverty. Students can’t learn if they don’t go to school. Teachers can’t teach if students come to class half the time, or come under the influence, or refuse to take school seriously and do the required work in order to learn. Teachers can motivate only so much; parents have to step in and be parents. No improvement plan, no matter how extensive, radical, or even logical, is going to work so long as students and parents are not responsible for their own behavior.
So what, do you say, has this to do with Bloomfield Hills? Not much, which I guess is the point, except that we and every school district in the state are in jeopardy of becoming part of an unproven overall plan to fix problems that we don’t have, a plan that is trying to fix problems elsewhere that may be insurmountable in terms of government action being able to solve.
Politicians and some astute entrepreneurs who see an opportunity for a whole new industry in which they can make some money, believe education in Michigan is broken and needs fixing. I respectfully disagree with that assumption. It is a socio-economic problem, not an educational one. I believe Bloomfield Hills Schools stand ready to support creative solutions to finding good educational outcomes for all students in our state, but those solutions must be helpful to those who need them without harming those who do not.
May I to say to everyone in our school community, please become informed about what is happening in our state, because the health of our public schools affects all of us, whether we have children in school or not.