ON MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2016 JAMIE VOLLMER, AN AWARD-WINNING CHAMPION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, AND THE AUTHOR THE HIGHLY ACCLAIMED BOOK, SCHOOLS CANNOT DO IT ALONE, SPOKE BEFORE A GROUP PRIMARILY MADE UP OF EDUCATORS AT THE VERO BEACH, FL. HIGH SCHOOL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. HIS PRIMARY GOAL IS TO HELP EDUCATORS AND THEIR ALLIES REMOVE THE OBSTACLES TO PROGRESS AND CREATE SCHOOLS THAT UNFOLD THE POTENTIAL OF EVERY CHILD.
A main take-away from Mr. Vollmer’s talk was that 77% of all jobs in 1967 did not require a high school diploma. Now the number is 12%. That’s because the agricultural and industrial economy began to fade away in the 1980’s.
How do you ensure children graduate from high school given the new burdens placed on schools and time constraints of the school year?
Here is a problematic example of an issue faced by schools, referred to by Mr. Vollmer.
Jill, a five year old child from an affluent neighborhood who’s parents have read to her all her life starts her first day of kindergarten. In comes Jimmy, from a poor neighborhood where he is raised by a single working parent, who sits next to Jill. Jill says “hello” and Jimmy says “What’s up dude?”
At the outset, Mr. Vollmer said, “Jill knows 7,500 more words that Jimmy.”
But suppose they both have the same IQ. “They both have the same intellectual weapon, but Jill has the ammunition.”
Although Jimmy has the same intellectual weapon, it will take him longer to learn. “The quality of each student is a variable.” Schools are disconnected from reality and do not provide a level playing field and will favor those with the ammunition.
Referring to Thomas Jefferson as the father of public education in his 1781 Notes on the State of Virginia, Mr. Vollmer said Jefferson feared that without public education only the affluent who could afford private institutions would become the learned members of society.
Boston Latin was founded in 1635. Harvard University was founded in 1637. The College of William & Mary in 1693. Yale in 1701. Princeton in 1747. Dartmouth in 1769.
Yet in his Notes, he wrote: “Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. By this means twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expence, so far as the grammar schools go.”
To dismiss the residue and rake the best geniuses from the rubbish? As in the above example, is Jill the geniuses and Jimmy the rubbish?
While Jefferson felt it was absolutely essential that education be an institution that is locally controlled by the people of an area, so too does Mr. Vollmer. He echoed Jefferson’s position “that the last thing the American people wanted was a government that bossed them around. He knew that free people deserved control over one of the most fundamental human rights – the right to education.” (Source: http://www.study.com)
Mr. Vollmer began his presentation stating he would not be speaking about curriculum, instruction or assessments; but rather about how teachers and administrators are the only ones whom have the power to change the way children are educated.
“We need to have a positive thoughtful conversation throughout the community to increase understanding and trust and change the way things have been done in the past.”
Teachers have no control over the quality of their students. But new ways need to be addressed to make sure education addresses the needs of both Jill and Jimmy.
Schools are not a business. They need to think how to re-group kids. “It’s not just about the date of their manufacture.”
Negative media perpetuation create erroneous assumptions that teachers are the problem, while they work 50 – 60 hours a week. Teachers dance “as fast as they can” within the confines of a the time restraints of a school calendar.
More and more, parents expect teachers to “raise their child.” And men and women with no children or who had them go through schools years ago vote not to increase educational funding.
Do these people realize without increased educational funding tax rates will rise to support criminals, people will live in fear of them and property values will be devalued?
As opposed to having the community come together and support additional educational funding where teen pregnancy falls, the crime rate falls and property values increase.
Mr. Vollmer believes “this is a golden moment for education.”
- Parents, teachers and administrators have to stop badmouthing schools in public.
- Attention has to be shifted from negative to positive stories. (Negatives decrease the immune system.)
- Share something positive.
- The effort has to be sustained;
- And start to do it now.
“No one has the right to criticize public education unless he or she has spent a warm, Friday afternoon in May locked in a room with eighth graders. I will go to my grave with that smell in my nostrils.” (Jamie Vollmer)
The content of this article is attributable to Mr. Vollmer. Vero Communique took notes and did some research.