Is Education Reform & Its Solutions All About Perspective?

Recently I read an article titled “Tenure is not the problem: Debunking education reform myths — and providing a real path forward” and, though the article is much longer than any person really wants to actually read and not skim, I suggest it to any educator, administrator, teacher, or person concerned about our education system that believes there is a problem with our education system. The author, Morgan Agnew, provides insight from a teacher’s perspective on the problems within the education system and what truly are, in one individual’s opinion, the viable solutions. 

I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with all or any part of the article, though it is deeply rooted in fact and experience and provides more solutions than any we are seeing from anyone with actual power to improve the issue. 

So go ahead, give it a read. Tell me what you think in the comments below or simply keep your comments to yourself and write a passionate letter to the feds about how they should listen to Agnew. My only request: Don’t consume this information and then stay stagnant. Get up and do something, make a change! Bring awareness to the issues in the education system and attention to the fact that others (who aren’t in power but probably should be) have ideas to address the issue! 

Announcement: Workshop for RSCON5 on July 11th

This upcoming Friday (July 11th), I am conducting a 20 minute workshop with a 5min Q&A session following for the Reform Symposium E-Conference 2014 beginning at 1:30pm EST. This conference is FREE, so really there is no excuse for you to not show up and join the fun! I am touching on my social media education mission, how I created a business at the age of eighteen, and how to engage your students in the classroom–particularly through social media. The title of my workshop is “Reinventing Student Development in the Classroom” and more information can be found on the webpage “RSCON5 Keynote Speakers.”

 

P.S. I have a really awesome poster that has my picture and the information on my workshop, but with the new update of WordPress, I cannot add any media to this post! I hope this issue is resolved soon, as I miss sharing images!

 

You Decide: How Beneficial is Common Core? (With Two Examples)

Recently I have come across two stories about parents who are concerned about their children’s academic future. The first example is from the article “Why I’m pulling my kids out of public school” from Tampa Bay Times and the second is “Meet the ‘Brainy Bunch,’ family with 7 kids in college by age 12” from TodayParents. Now, there are a couple stark differences between the two examples, such as the parents’ reaction to their children’s education experiences.

The first article I mentioned,”Why I’m pulling my kids out of public school,” is written by Lynne Rigby, a mother of five and former teacher, who addressed a letter about her son’s experience with standardized testing to Florida Governor Rick Scott and Seminole County school officials. In this article, Rigby details the experience her third-grade son had while enrolled in a Seminole County school. Due to the looming FCAT–as well as son’s not-so-great scores on previous assessments–and AIR tests (which I assume are a state-mandated standardized tests similar to Indiana’s ISTEP and ECA), Rigby spent countless precious hours grooming her child for these tests. Or so she thought.

Fast forward to when her son’s scores are returned in the mail, with no explanation but what his answers were compared to what test officials deem the “correct” answer to each question. Now here is where the public education system, and standardized testing, is failing without even mentioning the great argument I’m sure I have shared on this blog before, which can be seen as a reminder below.

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This argument is rather simple and does not take an educated official to analyze and understand: One Parents are not given the correct materials in order to benefit their students’ future, through methods such as reviewing each incorrect answer and analyzing why the correct answer is in fact correct; Two, Rigby claims states pay other states to field test their standardized tests and these officials estimate that “fifth-graders will have fourteen hours of testing,” and though I do not know if this declaration is backed by facts, it is a scary thought to mull over; and three, states are updating their curriculums without upgrading their tests to align more closely with that new curriculum. Thus, these children, bright and intelligent students, are being set up to fail from the onset. They are not given an opportunity to prove their brilliance, because even if they achieve A’s and B’s in all of their classes, they can still be assigned to remediation classes due to their test scores. Unfortunately, Seminole County school officials have lost two students due to this problem. Hopefully, this issue can be resolved before the public education system as a whole is recognized as flawed by a large number of parents who are willing to homeschool their children, such as the family we will discuss next.

Take a moment to now analyze the successes of the Harding family, who has already enrolled seven of their nine children in college by the age of 12. At first I didn’t understand how this was possible, but then I read the key piece of information that made the impossible possible: homeschooling. This is the same solution Lynne Rigby discovered for her disappointment in Common Core and it is the same idea that enabled Heath, Serennah, Rosannah, Hannah, Keith, Seth, and Katrinnah Harding to achieve a high school diploma and conquer the fears of college by the age of twelve. These children–because yes, most are still in fact children–have accomplished by age 16 what takes most to achieve in 22 years. Is this what is the future of our education system, where parents have to take matters into their own hands to ensure their students’ success and bypass all of the formalities that seem to only hold a student back?

Unfortunately we cannot blame educators. We can’t even blame school administrators or other officials. This is a problem trickling down specifically from the state and federal governments. Though we cannot pull every single child out of public school, and I’m not even suggesting that is a beneficial solution to the problem, we can write letters to officials such as Lynne Rigby. Inform your state representatives and governors that you are disappointed in the current system. Pressure them to change their ways of measuring your students’ academic capabilities. Facilitate a professional conversation that renders solutions to this issue or at the very least brings attention to the flaws of Common Core and other standardized testing.

I’m writing my letter now.

Title Change or Personal Transformation?

As I shed my high school student shell and develop into a beautiful college butterfly, I need a social media transformation to match my personal one. Therefore, if you haven’t noticed yet, I changed the name of my blog from the bland and to-the-point “Social Media Education” to “Skippedapaige Transformed.” Now this may be confusing, as I am sure you have no idea who “skippedapaige” is.

Well, it’s me. Actually, it’s my personal social media persona and digital identity to my personal friends and peers. And yes, I am transforming.

Before beginning Innovations and adopting a professional online persona, I was a naive high school student utilizing social media to complain about my bad day at school and even my mom grounding me for disrespecting her. Yes, I rolled around with the best of them in the dirty mud that is teenage social media use; in fact, when I was thirteen and still figuring out what was most important in my life, being popular or academic achievement, I probably could have been my own poster child for my later YouTube series “The Top Ten Things Not To Do On Twitter,” found here.

If you were to be so lucky as to scroll through my Facebook account and review posts from 2009-2012, you could still find posts that would more than likely contradict my social media education mission in 2014. So why are they still there? Well, luckily by my senior year I understood what was most important in my life–successfully enjoying it–and decided to clean up my act. I said goodbye to the negative posts, complaining about drama, and worrying about other people’s opinions and posting about them. However, I do still want to seem as if I am at least half-human and therefore want to keep those posts to show teenagers, my peers, that what I am doing is a tangible goal: you’re not too late if you start today. And by joining me in cleaning up our act on social media, other students will become aware of what they post, understand the purpose of what they are posting, and utilize social media for more than personal use and complaining about daily tribulations.

Thus, I have decided to expand my social media platform and mission and hence needed a name change for my blog. No longer will my posts be solely about “Social Media Education” as my previous blog title suggested. As I graduate high school (11 more days) and head to college, I want to document my personal encounters with social media and professional networking in addition to reporting my latest findings on what is trending in the education system.

So there. I am an eighteen year old business owner and young entrepreneur on a mission. I will still make mistakes, I will still stumble on my own feet, and I will need others’ help when I do. But I am now speaking not only to educators, but to my peers. I am transformed, I am present, I am real.

 

For more information on my social media education mission thus far and to contact me, please visit educationmediatools.com.

Celebrating Those Who Deserve It: A Tribute To My Mom

This video has been circulating on the Internet for the past month and it has really opened my eyes to how wonderful and great moms really are. I rarely involve my own personal affairs in this blog, but this is one exception I HAVE to make. Because without my mom, her unconditional love and support, and her financial generosity, my social media education mission and DVD would have hit a wall within the first few months. And after watching this video, I realized just how much she has done for me over the years and how infrequently I show her how much I appreciate it.

Throughout this long and tedious process, my mother has stood by my side tall and proud, no matter my mistakes or frustration with a certain situation that was wrongly displaced onto her. She is such a strong and beautiful woman and she is the one who has taught me not only how to be confident but also patient and understanding when others need me to simply listen (which I will admit is extremely hard for me to do sometimes).

Moreover, we have a really weird and complicated bond because I am her only child. Growing up, it was only her and me, me and her. We did everything together and to this day tell each other just about everything. We are each other’s best friends. Though she says I never really had a childhood because I was always surrounded by her and her adult friends, whenever I reflect on my childhood, I think of all of the days we spent exploring The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis or hiking at a state park. I fondly remember her and I walking hand in hand, marveling at the animals at the zoo. And I cannot contain my smile when I think of the time we sprayed our entire backyard with food coloring when it was covered in a thick layer of snow and how intrigued I was with the different colors. Without these memories, I would not have the same amount of curiosity about the world or my fervor for learning more and exploring the possibilities of what could be if one simply tries.

In short, without my mother, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be as successful as I am today; I would not be a business owner; I would not be interested in professional networking; I would not understand what is appropriate conduct for the outside world. And without her, I would not have the same love for gardening or bird watching. In addition to all of the lessons she has taught me throughout my short eighteen years under her wing, she enlightened my soul to appreciate life for the great wonders it truly holds and how precious time with family and friends truly is.

I feel as though this post is extremely overdue, but with my leaving home and attending college in the fall, my mother and I have both recently been reflecting on our time together thus far and so this post also couldn’t be better perfectly timed.

If I could put it into words while looking my mother in the eyes without crying so hard that she could not understand what I was saying, I would tell her that I am so grateful for her love, patience, support, faith, and kindness not only for me but for life itself. I would thank her for not killing me when I scratched her new car, for hugging me when words were not enough, and for telling me the hard truth even when I didn’t want to hear it. I would offer her a hug that would last forever so that she would never have to live in an empty nest and apologize for not appreciating her enough.

We don’t know how long we have on this earth. Tomorrow, the woman who carried you for nine months, held you on her hip for years for comfort, and acted as your soundboard, maid, support system, personal bank service, cook, and most importantly your ATM of unconditional love, could suddenly lose her strength to carry her and you both and have to make the choice to put you first one last time. So look your mother in the eyes, pick up the phone, Skype her, do SOMETHING, and tell her how much you appreciate her love for you and always making you her top priority, even if you didn’t feel like she was. Your mother is your greatest role model for so many things. Let her know you finally understand and appreciate it.

Is There Room For Social Media Use in Higher Education?

In February, I ran across this article written by Rachel Reuben titled “The Use of Social Media in Higher Education for Marketing and Communications: A Guide for Professionals in Higher Education” and was immediately intrigued by the content of the article. Unfortunately the most recent citation it has is from 2008 and the article primarily focuses on utilizing Myspace and older social sites in higher education, but the concepts are still relevant to the social media sites we use today. Throughout my research I have crossed paths with the first visual included in the article that depicts the variety of social media networks available in the 21st century and categorizes them in terms of their primary use. Most of the sites included on the graph are sites I have never heard of (seriously, what is hi5 and was it really used as a social media site?) but the article does speak of a social networking site I believe we all are very familiar with: Facebook.

Though I have strayed away from discussing most social networking sites besides Twitter on my blog since beginning my mission, there are numerous sites that can be utilized for personal and professional use for students, educators, and other professionals. In my personal social media dictionary, Facebook as been defined as “a social networking site utilized primarily for personal conversations with friends and family.” It is considered more personal than Twitter and is usually not used for professional use; however, it has benefits that Twitter does not have, such as free reign of characters in a single post and the ability to create events–which would be extremely beneficial for those trying to connect professionals to each other and in a safe environment to meet, collaborate, and network.

Moreover, this article discusses how social media can be used in higher education and provides statistics about college students utilizing a variety of sites. If these statistics were then used to help universities understand how beneficial social media could be for their classes, once again, students would be provided the opportunity to network with professionals and propel their career forward. In college, students are encouraged to intern at different places and explore career opportunities. What better way to get connected with these professionals/businesses than social media?

College is meant to be a vessel from high school (childhood) to the real world and your professional career (adulthood). Thus, students are encouraged to intern at businesses similar to their future careers and make connections with professionals that will help them climb the business ladder. If high school students and younger people are utilizing social media for a professional use, then those students enrolled at a collegiate level should as well.

When Did High Test Scores Reflect Student Success?

I mentioned Suli Breaks and his Youtube video “Why I Hate School But Love Education” in my blog post “A Student’s Revelation & The Calm To Follow.” His poems inspired me to chase after my dream of starting my own business and producing my DVD because his message to students is that a college degree does not automatically equal success and a lack of college education does not automatically equal failure. In another video, “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate,” Breaks speaks directly to students and asks, “How many times have you remembered something 5 minutes just after the teacher said, “Stop writing” only to receive your results a month later to realize that you were only 1 mark short of the top grade? Does that mean remembering 5 minutes earlier would’ve made you more qualified for a particular job?” My answer would be no, though Breaks points out that, unfortunately, on an application form it would.

“I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.” – Suli Breaks

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For months I have advertised my idea for integrating social media into the education system and have, therefore, suggested the need for a reform in education. I have stated students do not enjoy school, as it does not teach them–us–the information appropriate for our 21st century workforce. I have argued students’ methods of compiling a plethora of information before an exam, regurgitating facts for that final A, and then dumping out the material before consuming another load for the next semester. Despite the fact that I  have previously written a post about the changes coming to the SAT in 2016, this is simply not enough. What I am calling for is a complete overhaul of the education system’s current regulations and standards, as well as the messages they send to students.

As many educators are aware, many students today lack passion and interest in their own education. To them, learning is another mundane action that leads to no benefits or gratification. However, what would happen if they were able to personalize their education and pursue their personal interests while still meeting state standards? Would they not be more motivated to continually gather more information about topics that relate to their interests? Would this method not reinvigorate students’ love for learning?

I understand that it takes two to tango: Not only do the teachers need to prepare the student for the opportunities they will be given when utilizing social media for professional use and exploring their own interests/future careers, but the students themselves need to be receptive to the information and “101 guides” on how to properly maneuver these new forums they will be given, such as social media sites and the freedom and responsibility to make good choices. But do we students not deserve it?

Do we not deserve the opportunity to expand our learning past the four walls of a traditional classroom? Do we not deserve to be encouraged to follow our dreams, to be invigorated with the messages our forefathers sent us about chasing after what you believe in and standing up for your rights? Do we not deserve a chance to be more successful than those who have walked before us?

We, as the future generations and the future of this society, nation, and world, deserve these opportunities. Because these opportunities will not solely benefit us and our future wealth and success. These opportunities to be creative, innovative, professional, and entrepreneurial will not only inspire us to continue learning and researching about the newest technologies available for our respective careers but will inspire us to create the next software company that is 100% free of scams and viruses, to develop the cure for diseases such as AIDS and cancer, to join together as one in hopes that we will create a better future for our own children and the generations to follow in our footsteps. My mother and countless other parents around the world have told their children that they want them to have a better life than their parents. So why are we prohibiting the means to achieve that goal?

Intelligence cannot be determined solely by an exam grade, ISTEP score, or SAT achievement. It cannot be measured by achievement tests, projective tests, or any other type of test that officials have created to measure what they believe defines intelligence. And the scores students receive on quizzes, exams, and standardized tests do not define their future.

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