Prepared Notes for Board Meeting Ė Liberty Renewal
December 13, 2010†
Marc A. Schare Ė †
Having heard this presentation twice before, I donít have any additional questions but I do have some comments Iíd like to direct at the Liberty Staff. †
You get it. You have thoroughly embraced the opportunity, the objectives and the challenge that was presented when we embarked on the renewal voyage three years ago.
This proposal embodies the wisdom to understand that American education must change, that the 1950ís factory model is dead and that technology, global awareness and brain science will forever change that what, how, why and when children are educated.
Letís take technology for example. Technology is not an end to itself. We canít give students laptops and claim victory in the technology battle. Technology is a means to an end. Kids will embrace technology if it helps them get done something they need to get done, whether itís to look up stuff for a research paper or find the hidden cheats in a video game. Teach a kid how to use a laptop and you get them through the next few years. Teach a kid how to select the right technology for the task at hand and you begin to provide a necessary lifelong skill that our middle schools and high schools will shape and hone in the years to come. Kids shouldnít have to power down when they come to school, nor should schools shy away from using and teaching the proper uses and limits of modern information science. I commend you on trying to strike that balance.
Letís take Flexible Grouping as another example. As a kid who was great in math and couldnít write a sentence in longhand †if my life depended on it, this makes all the sense in the world to me. I also recognize that this is very hard to do, particularly across classes in a given grade but as you gain experience, itís my hope that this becomes one of those Best Practices that we export to all elementary schools and even outside of Worthington. The important thing is that you embrace the concept of †challenging every kid to the limits of their potential and make whatever structural changes are necessary to accomplish this.
I am a fan of Project Based Learning and was thrilled to see it play such a predominant role in this proposal. I was also quite interested in the research that your proposal cites on the efficacy of PBL. Some of these studies mention the excitement that PBL can bring to a classroom and one study suggests that a huge benefit of PBL is that kids tell their parents what they did in school that day without having to be asked. Once again, you have embraced that challenge that PBL brings. It is not as easy to get through the content standards while creating age appropriate challenges for kids, but the age of rote memorization is over and the lessons kids will learn as they attack your problems will serve them for a lifetime.
The extended school day part of your proposal †is a recognition that learning occurs all the time and that if we are going to embrace ďcreativityĒ as a component of a 21st century education, we cannot mandate when creativity occurs. Itís my hope that in addition to making help available immediately before and after school, you extend the concept to include, perhaps in conjunction with Worthington Libraries and their homework help offering, nights and weekends as well. How great would it be if a kid could Skype a teacher when working on a project on a Saturday.
Your †renewal plan appropriately acknowledges that 1 out of 4 of your students qualify for Free and Reduced lunch and that our obligations to these students and all Liberty students may extend† beyond the imparting of academic content standards. What impressed me about this is that you again embrace the special challenges of teaching to this demographic. I donít know if weíll find a way to get you some help with guidance but Iím confident that whether we do or not, youíll find a way to make it work.
Finally, your plan recognizes that you canít do all this at one time, so your proposal includes a well thought out timeline with measurable deliverables. In addition, your plan is well documented, grounded in research and best practices and is affordable based on the budget that is included in the proposal.
The point of renewal was never to get a school to select one idea or copy a program out of a book just to be able to check something off on a list. The point of renewal was, in my opinion, meant to be transformative in that five or ten years from now, the district would be appropriately educating kids for the world they will inherit. I thank you and commend you on embracing this challenge and Iím so excited to see what sprouts from the seeds youíve planted here. †