The Bottom Line

Technology Must Revolutionize Learning

Technology spurs innovation. Innovation improves education. Instead of the teacher being the only source of knowledge in the classroom, students have access to the Internet which fosters student achievement. Here’s why: Learning does not start and end in the classroom, but continues throughout the day as students have access to their teachers’ lesson online, tutoring online, collaboration with other students, and the ability to reach other teachers across the entire world. There is, however, a significant issue stifling the advancement of technology in the classroom: the lack of training. As Don Nielsen states in his book, Every School, “Usually what they [teachers] need is to be trained on what new technology to use and how to use it. Unfortunately, most Read More ›

Leadership vs Unions

Teacher unions always focus on the needs of their members, not the needs of children. A case in point is the recent strike in Denver. Teachers were out marching for an increase in their pay while students were being used as pawns. An article in states  “The average teacher salary in Denver, which includes incentives, is $62,095. That’s well above the national average teacher salary, which is $55,100, according to federal data.” What is more disconcerting than the statement above, was the announcement made by the teachers’ union president, Henry Roman, “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed Read More ›

One Size Fits All Should Fall

Enough squabbling has been done on whether or not the current education system works for every child.   New flash, it doesn’t!  Today, about 25% of our students drop out before graduation and another 45% graduate with insufficient learning to qualify them for community college, and in many cases, insufficient learning to qualify to enter the military.   Hardly what one would consider an effective education system.  Education, particularly K-12 education is meant to prepare a young person to be able to pursue their dreams—whatever they may be.   It could be college, a certificate program in a community college, a trade like welding, coding, electrical, becoming a mechanic or a hairdresser.  Perhaps, its music or the theater; it doesn’t matter what interests Read More ›

Grades Have to Go

Letter grades should be left in the past. In an article on, author Madeline Will argues for the importance of removing letter grades from the classroom. She articulates that “The traditional A-F system doesn’t inspire students to learn for the sake of learning. Grades are too heavily based on nonacademic factors, like punctuality and compliance. They stress some students out and cause others—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to give up.” At the heart of the problem is a resistance to innovation: “[T]he traditional grading system is entrenched in America’s schools, and educators who experiment with grades have faced pushback from administrators, teachers, parents, and students themselves. And many school districts are not logistically set up for making radical grading changes, Read More ›

A Quest for a More Purposeful Education

The Center welcomes a new program coordinator, Bailey Takacs The American Center for Transforming Education (ACTE) is pleased to introduce our newest staff member. Bailey Takacs has multiple years of experience in increasingly responsible roles at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In his most recent position, Bailey managed a campaign for State Representative Paul Graves. His experience is escalated by his Bachelor’s degree, earned from Pacific Lutheran University, with a major in Politics and Government and a minor in Philosophy. Having been a product of public education in Washington State, Bailey has had firsthand experiences with the challenges facing the existing public school system. His experience aligns with that of Don Nielsen, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, Read More ›

Nowhere to Go but Up. A look at Student Achievement

As we contemplate dramatically improving the performance of our education system, the monumental effort this will take, and slow pace, makes many resign themselves to small tweaks to an outdated K12 model. Others, however, are tackling the issue head on. The American Center for Transforming Education recently sat down with Dr. Edward Lee Childress, Superintendent of Corinth, Mississippi School District. Why Lee? Because he is from Mississippi, a state ranked 50/50 on K12 Achievement in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2017 report. The data isn’t good for these students who go to school in the worst performing state in the nation. However, in Corinth, a district with 61% poverty, 43% minority, and thousands less dollars per student than the national average, Read More ›

With Learning, Take the Scenic Route!

The world’s information is literally at our fingertips every hour of the day. Getting info is as easy as pulling out that smartphone or tablet and asking a search engine for the answer. In less than a second, there it is. “How many millimeters are in an inch?” Boom, there it is. “There are 25.4 millimeters in one inch,” the virtual assistant responds. “What’s the capital of Peru?” “Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru.” Done. You are now smarter than you were a few seconds ago. Or are you? It turns out that learning is not as efficient a process as Big Tech would like it to be. The latest research in cognition shows that learning takes time, requires repetition, Read More ›

Career Technical Education

The USA is waking up to the disconnect between jobs available and the lack of American youth with the skills to fill them. Apprenticeships and skills-based learning for students is a big focus of our nation’s educational reform today. Many of these models are crafted from the success of Germany, Switzerland, and other countries who long ago recognized that technically skilled wage earners are the backbone of their country’s economy. Public Private partnerships are leading this innovation. IBM started the P-Tech model as a six-year public school career program for grades 9-14. AJAC (Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee) and other apprenticeship programs are offering high school students paid adult apprenticeship hours, and high school and college credit, during the public school Read More ›

K-12: Delivering as Promised

America’s public education system, which was established over 100 years ago, was never designed to effectively educate every child. In fact, it was designed to prepare most children for hand labor in our factories and farms. A few children would excel and those children would become the supervisors, managers, and community leaders. Today, we employ the same system and we find that our schools still effectively educate a small percentage of our children. In fact, about 30% of today’s high school seniors will be prepared to attend college and become our leaders. This 30% is comprised primarily of white, upper middle class students. The other 70% of students were expected to go far enough to learn to read and write, do basic math, and then go to work for the top 30%. Should the expectation of our education system today be that it prepares all students for self-sustaining employment of their choosing? Read More ›

A Look at Louisiana’s School Transformation

“Local Control.” Often we presume comprehensive systemic alignment at a state level in our K12 system will remain a suggestion in practice. There is truth to this. States determine the standards all students should meet in order to graduate. It is up to the local districts to decide methods and with what courses and materials students employ to attain these standards. Certainly there are a few checkpoints along the way through standardized testing. However in most states these test have no bearing on the individual student. Rather the results inform how the school district is doing in educating to the state standards. In the end, the secondary Principal approves course credits, and the Superintendent of the district signs off on Read More ›