School change: the perfect little world of universities

by Steve Wyckoff on November 3, 2010

What magic elixir can KBOR possibly be feeding the rest of the education world? How else can you explain the hold that the universities have on K-12 education.

The perfect little world of colleges! How do you get a gig like this!

First of all universities get to dictate what and how high school kids learn. They establish standards for “qualified admissions” that have become the gospel for high schools across the state. Even more frustrating is the fact that they mandate that this content has to be taught in isolation, and in a theoretical rather than applied setting. in spite of the fact that the vast majority of students find the “qualified admissions” curriculum boring and irrelevant to their lives.

Then they get to select who they want to admit based on the student performance on the curriculum they mandated.

In spite of all this preparation, sorting and classifying, they fail the majority of their students.

Then when they fail they blame high schools for poorly preparing the students.

And even with the ones that succeed, about 20% settle for jobs that don’t require a college degree because they aren’t prepared to actually succeed in the real world. AND, according to one insider at the University of Kansas, less than one fourth of their graduates actually get a job requiring the degree they earned. I’m pretty sure the results are much different at the other regents universities.

And to top it all off they brag about their results.

All the while leaving over 70% of our kids in their wake with total disregard for their futures!

The saddest aspect is that they buffalo K-12 into drinking the Kool aid! You have to admire their influence, if not their results.

I think it’s about time we had a serious school change conversation about the relationship between K-12 schools and universities, and the curriculum that they mandate.

I’m pretty sure I’ll catch hell for this one, but I’m tired of conversations with principals, superintendents, and curriculum directors, who can’t do what they feel is best for kids because of the shackles of universities. It felt- Steve Wyckoff

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Bill Hagerman November 3, 2010 at 10:37 am

Your comments are mostly correct and I feel as though I too have not done enough about this. But that does bring me to the question, what should be done about this? How do we correct this and if we do, are we going to like what we get?

I am obviously a college person. I, like you, have been there many times. I have supported the “enterprise” of higher education, and it is an enterprise. I just don’t think it should be the only enterprise valued above all others.

I would not be where I am today without the college degrees I have, but I do remember a moment during my doctoral days, when it became clear to me that I was going to have a lot to learn to be a superintendent rather than just knowing about superintendents. If it weren’t for a couple of college professors who also understood this, and made it a requirement to know how to do something rather than just knowing about it, I might not have ever gotten a job.

So, we must do better in whatever level of education we have, with the “technical skills” of being in a carrer area, even those knowledge worker areas.

Bill

avatar admin November 3, 2010 at 11:29 am

I agree Bill. Although I haven’t done anything in my career that I couldn’t of done without my doctorate. I really agree with your point that it isn’t the only path to success. Unfortunately we seem to forget that an education. We focus completely on preparing kids to go to college, and students who decide to take a different path are almost completely on their own to navigate.

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