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 Response Page - Kolderie / Graba  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Ted Kolderie / Joe Graba Interview of

The Questions:

On a scale of (0) most disagreement , to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view:

1. _7.8 average response_____ that K-12 teachers need to be unleashed to try things they think will improve student learning, without first having to gain approval from administrators.

2. _1.9 average response_____ that rather than giving K-12 teachers more freedom to innovate, education leaders should continue to require teachers to do a better job within the framework of long-held concepts of what constitutes a traditional classroom.

3. _8.5 average response_____  that any effort at national standards that fails to leave the door open for innovation represents an unacceptable risk for the future of the nation's pupils.

4.  _2.1 average response_____ that it's more important to enact uniform educational standards for everyone than to allow innovations that might not be consistent with national standards.  

5.  _2.5 average response____ that continuing to place highest priority on "equity" is so important for disadvantaged students that, if necessary, other objectives such as "excellence" probably will need to continue to receive lower priority.

6.  _7.3 average response____ that uniformity produces mediocrity but learning by all students in all situations will be enhanced with more freedom for innovation.

Terry Stone (10) (0) (10)( 0) (0) (10)

Tom Spitznagle (6) (4) (8) (5) (2) (7)

Wayne Jennings (9) (2) (10) (1) (5) (9)

John Sievert (7.5) (2.5) (10) (2.5) (0) (10)

Question 6:  However, we also need to properly fund education so that there are the funds for R&D and innovation. This also means using our overhead intelligently and getting rid of largely failed experiments (i.e. unsupervised and unaccountable charter schools, for instance). The concept of "Choice" is a luxury we can no longer afford but we must, simultaneously let our individual star teachers drive innovation and build innovation into the DNA of our schools.

Cindy Nordstrom (7.5) (0) (10) (0)  (7.5) (10)

Chuck Denny (7.5) (0) (10) (0) (0) (5)

Question 1: Innovation should be encouraged, but there has to be some modicum of supervision.

Question 2: The traditional classroom may not fit today's youth.

Question 4: We may need innovation to even achieve a national standard.

Question 5: Low bars yield low results.

Question 6: Contradictory question.

Glenn Dorfman (7.5) (5) (5) (10) (0) (0)

Question 1: Are they currently having to get their materials approved? Should there be a basis (foundation) test for what is used and what is not. When I started teaching in the 1960's, through the early 1970s, there were some who thought that Playboy was appropriate because it motivated boys to read! Is the New Testament an appropriate reading tool for a person of the Jewish faith? This is different than a comparative course in world religions where broad study of different scripture is appropriate. There should be some way to baseline current methods against the newer innovations that are used to improve student learning to determine if they are working or not.

Question 2: This depends upon whether traditional classroom efforts are producing thoughtful, knowledgeable student. If they are working well, than they should be continued. If not, trial and error pedagogy might be the answer or a more intellectually gifted teacher.

Question 3: I cannot imagine national education standards being static. They will and must change with the demands the world brings for adaptation and progress.

Question 4: Uniform educational standards (This is what a person graduating 5th, 8th and 12 grade should know) are very important. The methods used to achieve these outcomes should be broadly innovative in and geared to the students who cannot achieve the standards by more traditional means.

Question 6: Uniformity produced Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Jonas Salk and many of the rest of us. Calling the Great Generation or the Baby Boom generation mediocre (they were educated in largest part by a uniform public school system) is fundamentally inaccurate. If the schools became mediocre, it had more to do with lack of parental expectations/ demands and the insane preoccupation with making sure students had a "good experience" where their self-worth was enhanced. Of course, this psycho-babble is, in my view, why we are in this mess. With some exceptions, people who are smart, who can navigate life's path with alacrity and adapt to life's adversity are less mediocre. Happiness is way over-rated when juxtaposed with competence/skill.

David Dillon (10) (0)  (10) (0) (0)  (10)

Question 5: This is not a small issue. The "excellence agenda" may be our only real hope to innovate our way out of this seemingly impossible fiscal disaster.

Tony Solgard (7.5)(0)  (7.5) (0) (0) (10)

Question 1: Ideally, there would be deliberative planning by teachers and timely, collaborative review and approval by administrators. But, certainly, make sure teachers are professionals and then give them professional latitude.

Question 3: There is nothing wrong with well-constructed standardized testing and reporting results against norms. Those results should be diagnostic and lead to assurance of mastery whenever possible. It is very wrong to use those results to prevent a student from graduating. Every student "commences." After doing what it can to educate a student, the education system needs to help the student take the most appropriate next step. Portfolios and other alternatives to test scores and grade point averages should be used both to make education more meaningful and to find job placement or continuing education.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (5) (3) (6) (6) (2) (7)

Paul Hauge (7.5) (5) (8) (5) (6) (7)

Don Fraser (8) (2) (8) (2) (2) (7)

Arvonne Fraser (8) (4) (10) (4) (5) (8)

On no. 5 who defines "excellence?"

Peter Hennessey (7.5) (2.5) (7.5) (2.5) (0) (7.5)

National standards are important to ensure a uniform and unifying level of knowledge among the people. You can't have a nation without a common cultural base. But a uniform standard is not the same as uniform methods of teaching. One is the goal, the other is the means. It has to remain flexible so all students with all levels of intelligence, interest and motivation stand a chance to succeed. So let's not fall into the trap of false dichotomies, which is a disease peculiar to minds infested with leftist concepts of egalitarianism and social "justice." Also let's not be too enamored of "innovation." We have had formal education for about 5000 years; you'd think in all that time we would have a pretty good idea of what works. We don't have to suffer under the illusion that the world did not exist before we were born, or that nothing that's old can possibly be any good, and therefore we have to (re)invent everything from scratch.    

Questions 2-6: This is a false choice. The two are not mutually exclusive, they are complementary.

Rick Bishop (10) (5) (10) (0) (0) (10)

As an educator I believe the elephant in the room needs a complete overhaul.   Few are willing to look at successes in charter schools and from such visionaries as John Taylor Gatto (who I brought to MN to address school change at a MAAP Conference a number of years ago).

Carolyn Ring (8) (2) (9) (2) (2) (10)

Let teachers innovate and teach in different ways for different students.  Life is full of competition. We have been obsessed in education of trying to keep everything equal and not give students incentive to excel and be recognized for high achievement. I wrote my first Letter-To-The Editor  in 1954 bemoaning the fact many gifted students were lost to mediocrity because of emphasis on underachievers and one size fits all methods of education.e seem to have the same problems today. 

Donald H. Anderson (8) (3) (3) (0) (0) (8)

When I was a Junior in High School in the 1940's, our Math Teacher felt we were good enough to have a Calculus class but the School administration wouldn't allow him to do so. Things haven't changed much since those days. We need more flexibility and innovation, if the caliber of students, in the minds of those who actually teach the students feel they are ready for a higher level experience.

Al Quie (10) (0) (10) (5) (0) (10)

To me innovations have to do with methods, activities, ideas, etc. and the uniform standards ought to be outcomes like knowledge, skills and even behavior. That is why in #4, I am not really neutral but want uniform basic educational outcome standards but all the innovation possible in order to get there. Those who say reading or math or character is not the most important are right only if they think that in reaching those goals, families, communities and schools are will neglect emotional, social and creativity development.  

Dale Fairbanks

I am perplexed by the choices of answers I have.  They make me think that national standards would eliminate innovation.  I believe that there must be innovation, with the idea that innovation meet or exceed a national standard.  If you have no base line for a standard, how do you measure improvement? Minimum standards don't tell you how to do a job, just what the end results should be. 

 I work in manufacturing and we have minimum standards for every product we make.  People are always coming up with innovative ideas to make the production process more efficient, or to improve the product.  I cannot believe that the same scenario could not take place in the education environment.

Shirley Heaton (10) (0) (10) (0) (10) (0)

With world-wide focus on education and the US being near the bottom in producing well-educated people it's possible these guys can get their message across to the movers and shakers. Back in the late 50's I participated in a high school student program on job opportunity where Westinghouse said the kids should be learning more about radio than TV repair since the former placed them in stronger positions for current job training. Educators response: "Ridiculous". Bricklaying companies urged instructors to teach students using modern equipment. Educators reply: "There's not enough difference between the two".  Disney some years ago built a state-of-the-art community near Kissimmee experimenting with a new way of teaching -- no doubt along the lines of the Caucus' current presentation. There was so much flack that education out there is back to 'normal' procedures. I now mentor a high school student through this area's Education Foundation 'Take Stock in Children' program. She was failing in Algebra so I purchased her a book 'Algebra for Dummies'. Today she's getting an A.

Kent Eklund (9) (3) (8) (3) (3) (8)

Scott Halstead (7.5) (2.5) (7.5) (1) (2.5) (10)

Bill Hamm (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) (0)

Question 1:  As a teacher once told me; I was hired to teach curricula not create it. This allows teachers to think they are smarter than they actually are. In the old days, (When we were an education leader), both teachers and curricula were tested by competition. No such means testing exists under this Socialist sewage.

Question 2: We need to backtrack to the locally controlled model and scrap this Federally controlled Socialist failure that cannot be fixed. Get out of our faces and let us educate our children without your elitist interference. Unlike some, I do not feel happy having these overeducated idiots making my decisions for me.

Question 3: Any attempt at National Standards is just more Socialist garbage that undermines any chance of ever having a quality public education system again

Question 4: Neither standards nor innovation will fix our education system but they will buy the Socialist more time to use the education system to undermine our children’s future and freedom.

Question 5: Equity was the excuse for the Federal takeover of education. Those terrible white southerner who wouldn't give those poor black folks a decent education was the impetus of the education reform movement led by the newly established and empowered Teachers Union and their crown prize the US Dept. of Education. Education quality has been on a steady downhill slide ever since.

Question 6: Innovation is useless in your Socialist cookie cutter model because it is not about what is best for the individual student it is about what industry needs. Only local control gives us back a child based education system. Innovation only works in a system where it can be realistically and objectively tested.

State Sen. Kevin Dahle (10) (2.5) (10) (0) (2.5) (2.5)

Dick Angevine (7.5) (2.5) (10) (0) (2.5) (5)

Question 1: Agree in principle but also believe there needs to be some form of control.

Question 2: I believe there is certainly room for improvement in teacher skills and that this will help lead to improvements within the traditional classroom. On the other hand, clearly there is room for new methods and innovation as well. There is no single answer to our growing educational problems.

Question 5: While a great deal needs to be done in the area of educating disadvantaged students (and their families by the way) we cannot afford to do it in a way that reduces the overall standard of achievement. That is a path to disaster.

Question 6: Not sure I follow this. We must find a way to educate all students appropriate to their skills and abilities. The traditional systems are good in many cases but there is no question that new methods must be found as well.

Trish Klein (10) (0) (10) (0) (0) (0)

Question 1: Let administrators handle policy and let teachers teach and be responsible and accountable for daily operations of the classroom.

Question 2: Right.....

Question 6: Technology, peer teaching, collaborative teaching styles, there are many models that work to allow all students to achieve without just teaching to the middle and leaving our highest achievers behind.

Jan Hively (7.5) (0) (7.5) (0) (5) (10)

Question 1: It is important, however, to build team collaboration among teachers and the best person to do that is the principal. Teachers should not have to gain approval before trying new things.... but they should inform the principal about what's going on.

Question 2: I want teachers to do a better job within the framework of what research tells us are good teaching methods that fit with the ways children learn.

Question 4: It's importnat to enact realistic standards for achievement, to give teachers authority to do what they want/need to do to assure achievement, and to provide the resources needed for teachers to get the job done.

Question 5: This is a biased question.

Question 6: Uniformity may or may not produce mediocrity. The main thing is that teaching must be adapted to fit diverse learning styles.

Cecilia Retelle (7.5) (2.5) (7.5) (2.5) (10) (7.5)

Vici Oshiro (2.5) 2.5) (10) (0) (0) (10)

Question 1: Innovations need to come from teamwork - a team that includes administrators. Students don't have just one teacher.

Question 2: Some teachers need to do a better job and should have access to the mentoring and other tools to do so.

Karen R. Seashore (5) (2.5) (10) (5) (5) (5)

Question 1: Teachers have a great deal of creativity, but too much inconsistency between classrooms creates terrible learning conditions for students. The answer is that neither extreme is appropriate; a collaborative and shared environment for innovation is needed.

Question 2: Traditional classrooms are not going to disappear -- we've tried in the past, and they come back because parents like them! Teachers need, as a group, to be encouraged to innovate more, but we can find lots of good learning in settings that have 1 adult and 20-30 students who meet, most of the time, in face-to-face settings. I have seen it frequently myself.

Question 3: There is very little in the suggestions for national standards that would necessarily limit innovation. Most developed countries that have wonderful teaching and learning also have standards. The underlying assumption of this statement is just plain silly -- but this is the U.S. -- we could manage to develop standards that would inhibit innovation.

Question 4: It depends on the standards. "Good standards" are helpful for teacher innovation because they free them to focus on how to engage students in learning what we all agree they should know and be able to do.

Question 5: This is a political ploy. Excellence and equity co-exist in many places. They cannot coexist in a system that allows different standards for different students -- based on where they live and what their parents do.

Question 6:  Think of a normal curve. Do we want a very long tail on either side -- two standard deviations of students "left behind" while two standard deviations are allowed to pull ahead? Or, do we want a distribution where the tails are shorter. This is a choice that we may need to make. We have allowed lots of room for innovation all over the U.S. for a hundred years: It has produced mediocrity. The statement is based on a false assumption.

Mina Harrigan (7.5) (0) (10) (7.5) (2.5) (7.5)

Question 4: National standards need to be met; but they may also be exceeded and/ or added to.

Bob White (10) (0) (10) (0) (2.5) (10)

David Gay (7.5) (0) (7.5) (0) (2.5) (10)

Question 1: There needs to be both freedom to innovate and a way to stop bad ideas before they are tried.

Question 2: The traditional classroom does not work for all students. If it did we wouldn't have any problems to overcome. To make true improvements, all students need to make academic progress.

Question 3: It depends on what the standards are. If they are a set of knowledge or skills students need to acquire, that still leaves innovation in how that knowledge is delivered. However, if the standards include "how the knowledge is to be taught", all freedom is lost.

Question 4: The standards and innovations are best when handled locally. The Federal Government should have little or nothing to do with K-12 education. Each state should have more input into the standards and policing the schools. Each community should have the ultimate say through their school boards.

Question 5: The needs of all students need to be met. This includes both the disadvantaged and exceptional. Otherwise, schools should be allowed to specialize in the types of students they serve.

Question 6: We have to give every student the same opportunities, but we can't expect exactly the same results.

Bob Brown (7.5) (0) (10) (5) (0) (7.5)

Question 1: It is important to make the administrators aware of what the teachers are doing. It can be very upsetting to the system if teachers are doing something that the administrators and boards are not aware of. This can be very embarrassing to a school if something goes wrong- particlularly if there is a violation of rights.

Question 4: Standards should relate to outcomes with the method of obtaining those standards left to the discretion of the teachers. It is important that standards not provide a ceiling on expectations (i.e., basic skills standards), but a floor so that students will be allowed to achieve as much as possible.

Question 5: The goal should be for all students to reach their potential. Equity of opportunity means giving everyone a chance to achieve. Much of what has been done in the interests of equity in practice becomes a form of racism with expectation too low for some disadvantaged students.

Question 6: Many students have achieved reasonable well in the traditional system, but I believe more students would accomplish more if competent teachers assisted them in innovative ways. However, having incompetent teachers leading kids in "innovative " ways may lead to virtually no learning at all.

Bert LeMunyon (7.5) (2.5) (7.5) (2.5) (0) (7.5)

Daniel Neale (7.5) (7.5) (10) (2.5) (5) (7.5)

Question 1: Unleash? A teacher needs consulting with other teachers and administrators.

Question 3: I see too much of efforts to national narrow standards for all without flexible.

Question 5: "Equity" and "excellence" needs to specify these words.

Kevin Edberg (8)(3) (8) (4) (4) (4)

Jim Keller (9) (2) (9) (2) (2) (9)

Ray Ayotte (10) (0) (10) (0) (5) (10)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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