Would you allow me to provide a review on the state of students and schools today?
If you are an educator, an athletic coach, a youth pastor or anyone who leads students, you must be aware of the state of affairs today when it comes to middle schools, high schools and colleges across our nation. Most of us are aware that our system is failing, but if we received a report card like our kids do—we’d receive a pitiful grade on our final this year. Let me illustrate.
1. A Year of Cheating Scandals.
From Washington DC, to Waterbury, Connecticut to Camden, New Jersey to my hometown in Atlanta, Georgia—it was discovered the rising test scores from our students were not due to our improved teaching methods. It was because we, the caring adults who educate them were changing their test scores to make them pass. We cheated to keep our jobs and get a raise—as many schools tie test scores to salaries. 2011 may well be remembered as the year of the cheating scandals.
2. A Year of Intention without Action.
Not everywhere, but in so many places I visit, I see school districts who claim they are taking measures to get better teachers in the classrooms and better administrators leading the schools—but alas, it was just talk. Because so many teacher unions prioritize the “adults” not the kids, students continue to suffer from poor education. I love it when I meet principals and faculty who are turning the tide, but I must confess—they are few. “No Child Left Behind” failed in various states not because it was a bad initiative, but because adults found loopholes to pass kids through the system without those students actually learning something.
3. A Year of Shame in the World of Athletics.
Let’s see. We heard rumors about Cam Newton’s dad holding out for the highest bidder, Ohio State turning a blind eye to athletes selling school property, University of Miami acknowledging players got paid to play football there and, of course, the sad story from Happy Valley where Penn State revealed one of their coaches committed sexual crimes for years. I wonder how we can expect our students to walk with integrity when the adults who lead them can’t do it themselves.
4. A Year of Perpetuating Virtual Maturity.
Finally, as I study the horizon and interface with a little over 5,000 schools and student organizations, we continue to see students ill-prepared for adulthood when they finish school (at the high school or college level). They’re filled with knowledge but not wisdom that comes from real experiences. They are over-exposed to information earlier than they’re ready and under-exposed to real-life experience later than they are ready. College/career readiness is the need of the hour. Employers have job openings—hundreds of thousands of them—but find graduates unready to fill those positions due to lack of communication, relational and leadership skills.
Those of you who know me recognize that I am not a prophet of doom. I am, however, a realist who knows we cannot transform our kids unless we are first willing to be transformed as adults.
How else would you review schools in 2011?
Anything I’ve missed? What good events have occurred?