Only Community Leaders Can Save Our Schools

Posted 20 months ago|20 comments|814 views
© greatleadershipbydan
Written by
Virginia Beach, VA
In 2007 Bill Gates said the public schools are a threat to the nation's survival. They're that bad.

It's important that community leaders of all kinds (but especially business executives) become involved in fixing what must be called a crisis.

Your community needs you. It's easy to help. Here's how, in four steps:



Public schools have been sinking into mediocrity for 70+ years. Statistics trend ever downward. Why??

Let's confront the obvious. The people at the top are grossly incompetent. Or their philosophy dictates that education's true goal is leveling (i.e., dumbing down). Either way, it's prudent to replace the so-called experts who created all this decline and misery.

In short, start fresh. Re-examine what went wrong. Re-imagine what is possible. Find your own experts and your own answers.



Every city has three reservoirs of educational wisdom. Talk to these people:

1) People who manage private schools.
2) Those in charge of good parochial schools.
3) Homeschooling parents. (Note: homeschoolers have to spend all day at the kitchen table teaching. They don't waste time on methods that don't work.)



Investigate. Find out what goals and methods are used by the most successsful schools. Embrace only those methods!

You're a VIP. People will answer your questions. What theories, what approaches, what curricula are mentioned again...and again?

In a few hours, you'll know for yourself what works and doesn't work.

(Here is a preview of what you'll probably learn...)


Sight Words

High-Frequency Words

Reform Math (12 varieties)


Cooperative Learning



Whole Words

Dolch Words

Social Studies




No Memorization

Pretend Critical Thinking

Disorderly Schools

Permissive About Cheating

(Avoid these approaches.
Just a few of them, used relentlessly, can cripple any school.)


The 3 R's




Cursive Handwriting





Aesop's Fables



General Science


Second Language


Proper Spelling



Real Critical Thinking



The blueprint for success is simple: use only good methods. When in doubt, do what good schools do.

Praise and promote those methods. Spotlight successful schools.

Conversely, explain and criticize what bad schools do. Publish their scores. Name their principals. Laugh at their fads and foolishness.

Accept no excuses. When big organizations produce bad results, the top people should be replaced.


SUMMARY: public education, throughout the 20th century, was debased to achieve political goals. It's time to say goodbye to all that.

The best schools around the country, and throughout history, have done much the same things. Kids learn reading, writing and arithmetic. From there they go on to geography, history, science, literature, and the arts.

We need to enforce the popular will, which surely desires substantive education, not indoctrination, for every child.

The problem is that the official leaders in education are like viruses in a computer; nothing works right with them around. We need new leaders, in every community, to reclaim the public schools.



WHAT NOT TO DO: "56: Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education"

WHAT TO DO: "A Bill of Rights for Students 2013"


20 months ago: Excellent! We do need new leaders.
I had said this before. We formed a Board with people who cared and wanted a better education and chances for the children.. It can be done community to community and get politicians involved with the efforts.
At this moment this particular community has taken off on its own toward improvement.
20 months ago: Bruce, some of the high level schools that are around I would not send my children to because of what goes on.
Eugene, OR
20 months ago: You have some good points but others are misguided.
1. Public Schools haven't been declining, We have stayed the same and the rest of the world has been growing and evolving educationally, so it looks like we are declining compared to the rest of the world. In fact our biggest problem is educational inequality. We have some great schools like the International High Schools that can compare favorably with the rest of the world but we have a lot of really poor schools in poor school districts that bring the averages down.

2. We should look at what is happening in the nations that are kicking our butts in the rest of the world. They all have a national funding system and each student has the same opportunity. All of the teachers are drawn from the best graduates and paid accordingly to attract those teachers and the teachers are afforded amazing levels of respect. In our country the teachers are denigrated and underpaid and the best grads go to wall street where they do harm instead of good.
3. This one you are correct on. Look to the research to find out what works and what doesn't work. The traditional school which features lectures and memorization has a retention rate of 5%. Reading doubles that to 10%. DVD's and movies of the best demonstrations of principles increases retention to 30%. Discussion groups increase the retention rate to 50%. Hands on activities increases retention to 75% and having students teaching other students (like the old one room schoolhouses where the older students helped the younger) increases retention to 90%.
4. Both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top both put pressure on the teachers and schools by reducing funding for those school systems that do badly. This is so much pressure that students, and schools cheat, and teachers teach to the test. The poorest school districts are punished further for the social handicaps that they should receive more funding for - not less. Any teacher can teach motivated students in a good learning environment. We need to pay more to the poor areas, so the best teachers are available to the unmotivated poor kids and we need to improve lousy resources. The emphasis on accountability emphasizes the lower orders of thought like memorization which are easiest to test and ignores the higher orders of thought like innovation, creativity and problem solving. The country that does best educationally in the world, does little if any testing and uses team learning where the students are most active in their own research, co-teaching and cooperation is stressed instead of competition so there is little if any bullying and students learn to love learning.
20 months ago: Al, in the poor districts we need Community Leaders that was my point.

Where you say: "The country that does best educationally in the world, does little if any testing and uses team learning where the students are most active in their own research, co-teaching and cooperation is stressed instead of competition so there is little if any bullying and students learn to love learning".

My close relative, who was smart and loved to read and learn, was enrolled in a school similar to what you described as the team learning. The only problem I found with that was that he was not focus and was undisciplined. He tended to do basically whatever he wanted to do both in school where they teach that but continued this at home.

In the private Catholic schools, the children wear uniforms and are considered all the same. No one functions much as an individual, and there is a lack of healthy competition. I find that these children don't always have the self esteem that they should have.
20 months ago: Possibly home schooling for unschooling children would work where the child would learn discipline and be free in their learning to be creative and be resourceful.
20 months ago: A core syllabus system of primary education course and the student driven supplemental study system in my opinion are the best. Provide the primary education and let the parent and students explore additional curriculum like fine arts, religion studies, trades, philosophy, physical education, military studies etc... Provide the core structure and let them grow.
20 months ago: Excellent!
You said it, let them grow.
I taught mine to speak in front of audiences at an early age.
Keep putting them into special programs and classes while in their core studies, and they will tend to keep continuing this throughout adulthood.

20 months ago: A parent sharing time with them is helpful. Traveling and seeing the world at a young age benefits their minds and opens up interest.
Keeping them busy while they are growing is essential.
20 months ago: Certainly got quiet around here.
20 months ago: Nothing really more to say on the topic that hasn't already been said. The topic has out grown the forums and needs to move onto the next step or it will die out. All we are doing at this point is flogging a dead horse. Now it is about taking action and ratifying the system, there is nothing left to debate on the topic. At least not on the cause and cure of it.
20 months ago: Right! Now it is all about taking action.

Nethel, Nobody is talking anymore on anything. There are a lot of topics such as Women in the Infantry. So many things to talk about, yet nobody seems to want to talk. This site will die out if they don't try to keep it going.
Virginia Beach, VA
20 months ago: One problem here is that many comments discuss educational theory, and seem to miss the main point.

This article is a blueprint for pulling big shots back into the fight. Big shots and community leaders and also ordinary parents. Anybody but the bozos who have built the mess we have.

A famous senator once said he would prefer to be ruled by any 400 people out of the phone book than by the faculty at Harvard. Yes. Let the schools be run by any 400 college graduates out of the phone book or any 400 business owners. But nobody with a PhD in Education is acceptable.
20 months ago: Bruce,

This is our blueprint. Bruce. Sent out letters inviting people to sit on the Board and make suggestions on how to improve the school system and raising funds for programs. These were regular everyday people and some retired professional people who volunteered their time. We put together some simple functions to raise some money and invited the local politicians.
At this time, they are supporting these programs and a lot of headway has been made. The one person that starts this and sets it up is usually the best person with the most passion to get something done. All you need is that.
Virginia Beach, VA
20 months ago: Okay, that's step one, get new people.

Step two is to make sure the new people throw out the old ideas, that is, the bad ideas in the list. Don't discuss them, just throw them out.

One of the really sad things going on in our society is that the education establishment keeps people discussing 25 things, from assessments to zoo field trips. But all the while they keep in play the same bad, fatal, terminal ideas that have been killing the public schools for 75 years.

You want them all summed up in one sentence? Here is what progressives said from the start: we don't teach [the subject], we teach the child. Isn't that precious? From now on, let's teach subjects.
20 months ago: Bruce, the reason why this project is successful is because these are smart people who see the real problem.
That's why there is only a few that will volunteer. A few that had ridiculous ideas were those who wanted attention only. There was one college student who wanted to look popular. He didn't last. We made great progress with no old ideas. This was the purpose of the Board.
No zoo trips or fantasy islands. I'm sure you have ideas that you can bring to the table and that's how it starts.
It's already been done
20 months ago: You have to think bigger when there is change to be made.
Sometimes you have to reach for organizations that help fund special functions.
When you sellect the right people to be Board Members, that's when you leave behind the ordinary same mudane type thinking.
20 months ago: Corporations, businessmen and women are all out to make points for themselves.
Those aren't the kind of people you want.
They don't make changes they are only out for themselves. They don't even have a clue how to do it. They think from a perspective that isn't down to earth. You need people for the children who care.
20 months ago: There are one or two exceptions in this.
In our project in Africa one of the large companies have formed a program that brought in medical pre and post natal care for mothers.
This is a big step toward their survival and will relieve them of some of the heartache.
20 months ago: Correct this and explain:
Corporations who have people who want to get recognized for job opportunities will spearhead a program say in education, but they don't follow through. It is dead in the water before they begin because it is temporary. They don't have the know how or drive.
When a Corporation brings a larger concept to making some big changes, then that is the difference. You still have to have it manned with people who understand the larger picture and make it run successfully. They can do a lot to help with education but someone has to start it. I know they give grants which will help one or two people, but it is getting right into the center of the problem and fixing what needs to be fixed in the schools.
Still, the little guy can do it more so.
20 months ago: It amazes me how one person can start the ball rolling toward a successful program and all it takes is who they are. That has everything to do with it.
A problem that stops progress is that you get people who try to push their way in after everything has been done. They ruin everything if they are allowed to.
Sometimes you have to stop and listen and say maybe it does work instead of chalking it up to being the same old same old commonplace ideas.
That's what makes the difference in making things work.

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