Forward Thinking

A Step in the right direction!

By: Dr. Gary R. Carlson

Make it happen!

Historically schools and colleges have moved on with a scale of very little change. Society changes, economy changes, politics change, and now we have experienced technology change. Looking at anyone of these attributes we can see these changes are so great they don’t even appear to be the same company they were years ago. When something works well then why do we change? When looking at American companies from when they started how do they look today. Below is a list of companies who have a long history of existence. What has been their secret or grand plan to remain viable and healthy.

  1. IBM 1911, scales and punch card machines and later large mainframes (today: business intelligence, software, hardware)
  2. Xerox 1906, photographic paper (today toner, ink, software, printers, copy machines)
  3. Nokia 1865, paper mills, rubber works and cables (today phones and games)
  4. Monsanto 1901, Saccharin (today roundup, genetically engineered seed)
  5. GE 1892, Light bulb (today gas engines, hybrid locomotives, HD CT scanners, sound devices, chemical sensors)
  6. Fortune Brands 1969, who were previously known as American Brands, Tobacco (today hardware, home furnishings, golf clubs, cabinets)
  7. Du Pont 1802, Gun powder (today adhesives, insecticides, fire extinguishers, weatherization systems)
  8. Corning 1851, glass, (today optical fiber, cell phone covers, telescopic mirrors, television screens)
  9. Apple 1976, personal computer kit, (today iPad, iPod, online music, iPhone)
  10. 3M 1902, Sandpaper (today scotch tape, duct tape, post it notes, cleaning products)

Why would we look to these companies when talking about schools and colleges? Success stories like these are the blueprint to remaining a vibrant and purposeful organization to the society they serve. Their side track they took in the services had to remain relevant. Leadership even when distracted by negative influences are still on track with doing what they do best.

There are lessons to be learned from the leadership of these companies. As anyone can see they ventured into new territory and became successful by not allowing any negative influences forget what they did best. Each re-engineered company never allowed one source of income to be the life line of their mission. Career schools before selling their heart and soul to government control were successful in providing the graduates with certificates, diplomas and later associate degrees to an ever growing need for early entry employees with skills. Some of these schools boasted how companies had hired entire program graduates from their schools. The career school environment was healthy and respected. As each year went by and schools became more dependent on government funding the destiny of any school was being subjected to rules and regulations with rule makers in Washington D.C. The prospect that states determined the fate of their schools was quickly vanishing. The legacy of government today has built a brazen path that has placed schools into being a political football. Placing students, teachers and parents into the vicious contemptuous rhetoric of supporting schools by tearing them down. It is easy to be a critic when the only solution is to eliminate the education body you are so vehemently against. American history has shown the ills of taking anything we don’t like, trust or targeted by annihilation results in later remorse.

Our societal survivors never lost faith in what they believed were principles of high integrity of what they were and symbolized. This is why I contend our school leadership should look at what brought them to the added value they once were so proud in providing. While escaping to fear we should turn this around into pride and show the communities we serve that we can still stand tall. Our schools existed on building faith from their communities served by providing the needs of their community in education of common sense. Being part of the education movement and changes for fifty years has provided me with the highs and lows of our commitment as educators. The 21st Century has started with some amazing technology and workforce improvements. Society has had the opportunity to share in the new inspirations of service to our communities. While looking at the new implementations of our business communities our schools and colleges are hampered by federal regulations of monetary strings which inhibits philanthropy, creativeness, leadership, research and destruction of the autonomy of schools. Our schools are being influenced by politicians and not true statesman who represent construction not destruction.

Education leaders must return to the concepts of building programs of study that make sense for the consuming public. Research in each community needs to be completed to support the needs of that community with education opportunities to support the local goals and needs.

Current Issues:

Tuition cost are unaffordable by the middle class families. By accruing large debt these students will live in a life time of paying off debt. Does the U.S. Government benefit from student loans? I will let you be the judge of this by reading this article:

Regulations and Federal over-site: States across the country are in trouble with their education programs and schools. State control becomes diminished by the heavy financial hand that sits on state government for education.

Accreditation: A system that seemed to work well has been put on the pottery wheel to shape it into directions it was never intended to be. Because of the governments interest in their financial loans has placed accreditation into the banking business over creative and meaningful education programs. Funding is the key to staying open for our schools.

Performance: Our schools must begin to assess the performance and actual growth of student progress. Standardized test does not provide us with the true measure of what our teachers are accomplishing. Students come off the bench with a baseline of knowledge. Each student potential and growth are how to measure how our teachers are doing in their classrooms. Cohorts never give a clear picture.

Addressing Economy Needs: American education has had a history of providing a freedom of choice for communities, students and our economy. The strength of our community and country is to provide opportunities where we have no gaps in our provision of education to fill needs. There is a flow chart of opportunity where our citizens can pick from their interest, intelligence and aptitudes. By eliminating the opportunities in our schools we are placing schools, community and industry into a difficult situation. Some politicians have used these as platforms of destruction.

Summary: In closing our schools should be given the opportunity to lead the charge to satisfy the needs of their community and mission. The smorgasbord of lifelong learning can come from all the institutions that have existed throughout history. The American citizen has the right to choose from the opportunities. Government cannot continue to insult the intelligence of the U.S. population by not allowing them to make the choices. Disclosure of what is illegal or unlawful is necessary but to be destructive to entire organizations because of philosophy is a dangerous road to follow. From anyone of the niches of education opportunity they all have their success stories. Let’s keep opportunity abundant.

Note for Career Schools: Lower tuition, short term programs, performance measurement, fill the gaps for the trades, address community needs, flexibility of scheduling, employer to school partnerships, strategic plan to independence and better student services.

It is the time for education to fix itself with leadership and knowledge.

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