Excellence in schools can not be attained through the implementation of mandated policies. Policy only defines minimum expectations in a rush toward mediocrity. Excellence is an outcome driven by an individual’s ethics: an ethos of achievement. No amount of worldly accouterments can provide the impetus for an individual to strive for excellence in any endeavor. That “fire” must be lit from within.
Becoming an educated person should be the outcome of learning. Too many times learning is more about being compliant than truly elevating ones cognitive skills to a level of an educated individual. The more a person learns about something, the more they find out how much they do not know: the life-long-learner emerges. With achievement on high stakes testing as the only goal, the process often removes the opportunities to embrace the richer learning elements of education.
The charge we have been given in West Virginia and America is to educate all to a level of mastery in the core subjects: NCLB. Teachers and administrators can not achieve this goal by themselves in isolation. We need to empower all the stakeholders: teachers, students, parents, and community members as active partners, creating a framework of support and shared vision to sustain the efforts to fulfill our charge.
Bias to Action
From August to November for the past 15 years I have spent nearly every Saturday observing high school marching bands as a professional adjudicator. After the show I talk to their instructors about the achievement and level of excellence their students demonstrated that day and discuss strategies for improving their performance effectiveness.