Here is News on Texas Tracking for Schools

Why am I talking about what is going on in Texas?  Well, new ideas aren’t fabricated out of thin air, while average folks like you and me don’t get to hear about what other schools are doing I have a feeling that the folks who are on these education planning commissions do.  They can afford to hire people to look at what is going on around the country. All we have are folks like me 🙂

That aside, let’s look at what folks in Dallas Fort-Worth are reading with their morning cereal-

The law abandons previous requirements that most students take four years of math and science, including algebra II. It’s instead designed to provide teenagers hoping to land high-paying jobs right out of high school the flexibility to focus on vocational training.

But some school districts will have to offer new courses, or retool existing ones. Also, there’s no requirement that all schools provide every course the law lists as meeting new standards, meaning students with specific academic focuses may have to travel to other campuses to take a class like auto repair.

And committee members expressed alarm that counselors will have to meet with eighth-graders for all-important discussions on what kinds of courses they will take all through high school to ensure they stay on track to meet all the new rules — an especially daunting task since some counselors in urban school districts are assigned to as many as 400 students each.

There we have it! We appear to be going the way of other nations who track students.  Some kids are considered for further intellectual pursuits, and some are directed towards vocational programs.  This may well be a reasonable choice.  Expecting all children to go on to get a college degree might not be the  best option.  But this new idea isn’t all that new, it is just new to America.


CBS’ Jay Lloyd Gets Away to Boyertown!

Here is a local news story about a museum in our own backyard 🙂

All over the country there were carmakers, and Pennsylvania was very rich with them,” says Kendra Cook, curator of the most amazing museum, the cavernous Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.  On display is everything from a Conestoga wagon to the original Freihofer’s bread truck (below).


(An antique Freihofer's Bakery truck.  Photo by Jay Lloyd)


There are cars steered by a tiller (below), and cars resembling carriages -– without the horse.


(NO STEERING WHEEL -- an early automobile with tiller steering.  Photo by Jay Lloyd)


PA Considers 13th Grade!

Rob Wonderling, who was part of a 31 member panel discussing education for the future of Pennsylvanians asked whether Pa should consider having a 13th grade for students.  He felt it would be a time when they could iron out their academic skills so that they would be prepared for college, or technical school and it would also allow them more time to make financial choices about their futures.

Here is a little of what he’s said-

Rob Wonderling, the president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce who chaired that commission in 2012, said it could be time for Pennsylvania to consider this change.

He said it would be a time – perhaps not even a full year – for students, many of whom are filled with uncertainty about their future, to prepare for their next step.

They could use it to get themselves academically prepare for postsecondary education. It could also be used to develop a plan for financing postsecondary education or arriving at a more definitive career plan and the best path to get there.

As for who would own the 13th grade, the chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education threw out the idea of it possibly belonging to a combination of community colleges and career and technical centers.

I brought this portion of the article back because it was interesting to me that they were talking about who would “own” the 13th grade.  The chairman threw out the idea of it belonging to community colleges and technical centers.


Okay, here is my concern.  The other day we were talking about what responsibility state government has to students.  We talked about how it was important for states to create a strong workforce within their states, but I’m not the only one that thinks there is a danger when we have states directing students into particular jobs that would satisfy the state without necessarily satisfying students.  Our system of education doesn’t  currently have the tracking that other nations have.  We seem to like the feeling that children should be able to choose their own careers.  Of course that works for kids who know what they want to do, but it sure is super stressful for the children who have no idea.  Here the chairman makes a good point.  Kids who are 17 and 18 aren’t necessarily ready to make life long decisions about their future.  But why should one extra year in High School make any difference?

Will another year of formal education in secondary school help students decide what educational path they want to take?  And more importantly, how will community colleges, or technical schools influence their choices?

What do you think?




What Does Common Core Mean?

Indiana is done with Common Core standards!  That is the news today.

So what does that mean?   What is all this noise about Common Core standards in education?  And how does any of this touch us?

I’m going to try to answer those questions as simplistically as possible.  First, common core standards have been discussed for at least a decade.  The general concept is that state governors decided to help craft a core of educational standards so that students from California had the same basic knowledge as students from Pennsylvania, or Texas, or Idaho.  So far so good, right?  But that is where the problems started because some people saw these standards as a way for states to create workers which is economically responsible from a Governor’s perspective, but not so great for children if they are being tracked and led into programs just because it was easier for states to create workers.

Let’s pretend for a minute.  Let’s say your children are bright and talented, but the only jobs in your state are telemarketing jobs.  Would your students be better served at the state level if they learned basic marketing techniques, or if they learned algebra?

I’ll give you a little time.

Educators were naturally of two minds when it came to questions like this.  A lot of them fought for teaching the child all the necessary steps that would lead someone to be a critical thinker and an avid learner.

It sounds good,  but  we’ve got to ask ourselves what does that really mean?

Local school boards and governments were asking questions like ” How come we are paying so much money without knowing we are effectively training our students to become fully functioning tax paying adults?”

That sounds okay, but what does that mean?

Unfortunately it means we need to start at the beginning, we need to throw out all of our preconceived notions about what children should learn and we need to try to help students learn to think critically rather than spout content.

A lot of folks say children need to learn the three R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic.  I think most teachers would agree.  But the truth is that there is much more expected from students than simply reading and writing and doing math.  And there is a whole lot more expected of successful countries made up of successful students who are also future wage earners.

Can you see why this is a big nut to crack?

For us, we should recognize that common core standards or not, education will continue.  Students will either need remediation classes in college, or they won’t.  Testing will continue to plague students and teachers.  Teachers may teach to tests to keep their jobs.  Your own children may come home with homework you don’t understand.  As a matter of fact, if you contact your child’s teacher they may  not understand why your child has been given that work.  The issues are we are talking about are much bigger than those of your struggling third or fourth grader and that is a shame.

Folks, we have a problem.  The problem will not be solved this school year, nor next, and it probably won’t be solved in the next 20 years.

For current school kids that is way too long.

So what do I suggest?

I suggest we understand the common core standards before we complain about them.  In light of that, I’ve dragged the common core standards in math here.  I’ll also connect my readers to the standards in English.

There are no other standards at this time.  These two subjects were considered to be enough to start with.

Boy that was a lot of work.








ABC Channel 6 Saying More Snow Possible?

Oh my goodness, I have absolutely had it with snow.  And yet, another storm may be headed into our area on Sunday night into Monday morning with ” enough snow to shovel” according to Channel 6.

Who needs more snow?

I need warmth.  I need balmy breezes.  I need spring.

This afternoon I was lucky enough to sit outside for a bit in the sunshine.  I have to say it felt pretty magnificent.

This weekend seems like it won’t be quite as frigid as it has been, so enjoy it as much as you can.