Topic: Leadership Issues
Well, it's probably anticlimatic at this point, but I still want to post my two cents worth about the Oprah interview of Bill and Melinda Gates that was broadcast last month. I'm sure her heart is in the right place, but it was disappointing.
I was hoping for some serious discussion about the Silent Epidemic report funded by the Gates Foundation. It was mentioned, but there was no examination of the ramifications, not just for urban students, but for all U.S. students. Mostly the program was another expose on the disparities between urban and suburban schools.
Yes, addressing these inequities is important, but if all we do is clean up the physical environment and don't make systemic changes along with it, then urban kids won't be a whole lot better of, instructionally speaking.
I also wondered (again) why it is that program hosts and/or reporters think that quizzing people on the street about answers to a list of facts that have no context or meaning is a good measure of whether or not U.S. public schools are successful. This time the question was, "Name the first 5 presidents of the United States." Of course, only a student in China was shown being able to rattle off the names.
My question is, so what? Granted, I was a little taken aback that at least two interviewees thought that Abraham Lincoln was on the list, but aside from that, I repeat...so what? I sincerely hope that parroting back some memorized facts is NOT a good measure of what students know.
I think we need to ask better questions such as:
1. If (for some unimaginable reason) you needed to name the first 5 presidents of the U.S., and you didn't know, how would you find the information?
2. Identify the defining act or decision for each of the first five U.S. administrations. How do these continue to impact our nation today?
Okay...I'm over it.