“Most Likely To Succeed”

Most Likely to Succeed” is inspiring because it reminds us that the new technology demands new schools. But somehow relational skills have to be taught alongside factual literacy. The stairway from information to knowledge to wisdom has not changed. The rules have to be learned before they can be played with and broken.

I thought this video recently presented for the public at Oak Bay High School,  was going to be about the entrepreneurial mindset and education.  Not exactly.

But it was about expecting students to graduate from high school (in this case, one of the  High Tech High charter school franchises)  prepared for the Uber / Trump entrepreneurial life of unrelenting competition in which “creativity” counts for more than knowledge, and “boredom” ( a student asked to define what that is, could not) is not to be tolerated.

High Tech High hires teachers after stints with  Teach For America, or with no teaching  credentials at all, on  yearly contracts as long as their “passion” rating  satisfies whoever the evaluator is when contracts come up for renewal.

The featured school is the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High in San Diego.

Faced with a shortage of workers for the locally strong high tech and biotech industries, the group wondered why the local school system was not better able to produce more qualified workers. 

Which demands (not “begs the question” ) that we, as public education champions,  examine  the purpose of public education. Is it to turn out workers, coders and LNG pipefitters being the BC government’s current “passion”?  This film discredits the so-called “factory model” which will “turn out compliant workers who can read”. But turning out workers for high tech  industries is the exact purpose Gary and Jerri-Ann   and forty others referred in developing  developing this school – apparently, workers who can cope with constant noise, chaotic environments and demands, unrelenting competition, and precarious employment. It’s not called “High Tech High” because it’s awash in tech. It’s because its purpose is to turn out workers for the high tech industry. 

The High Tech High approach also  justifies itself by using such predictions as “McKinsey predicts by 2020 40-60 percent of skilled labor will be contract/contingency based”. Is that acceptable? It is unionization that built the middle class, not contract labour afraid to be supplanted if they don’t work 20 hour days for the lowest wage an employer can get away with.

Tom Vander Ark   (“education adviser and advocate” at HTH) in his blog “Education Week” says:

With stubbornly high levels of young adult unemployment and underemployment, the film explores the broken bargain that diplomas equal employability. Greg outlines the core premise, “Enduring school to get a job may not be true anymore.” (Tom gives a sort of grudging admission that liberal arts need to be given some space  somewhere, in this post

For supporters of public education, Tom is interesting on his own:

After years spent directing the distribution of more than $1 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation into hundreds of schools across the nation, Tom Vander Ark set his sights on the New York area, with a plan to create a network of charter schools of his own…. But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.

“Greg” is Greg Whitely, from Provo, Utah, educated at Brigham Young University, from the “our schools are broken” camp, director.

This “documentary” was funded by billionaire venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith,   partner emeritus with Charles River Ventures, a venture capital firm. He has a PhD in engineering (Stanford). In  2012, Dintersmith was appointed by US President Obama as an alternate representative of the United States to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, where Dintersmith focused on global education and  entrepreneurship. 

He discussed his vision in a book he co-authored, titled, “Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Age,” and he funded and produced a compelling documentary called “Most Likely to Succeed,” which goes into a California school, High Tech High in San Diego, where the project-based educational future he wants to see is already here. You could call it the antithesis of “Waiting for Superman,” the Davis Guggenheim-directed documentary which presented an often misleading account of public education and how to improve it.In fact, Dintersmith said, “Waiting for Superman” inspired him to do something very different.

[Diane Ravitch on WFS here.] Dintersmith does say “Business people need to understand that not all phenomena in life conform to the free-market model.” (I imagine he might add, “sadly”.)

The film opens by setting up the often used straw man, a favourite of US school reformers: “Our school system (US) was designed in 1893” voiceover comment is accompanied by still black and while photos of kids from c. 1900, along with statements that imply – or outright state – that students now are learning in exactly the same way becasue teachers re teaching in exactly the same way.

That’s outrageous.

I spent a long time in school, and I liked most of it. (I’m still there, sort of, as an elected  public education Board of Education trustee.)  Along the way I met many excellent teachers, in my own studies, and while teaching. I  met a few who were less than inspiring. That’s humanity. Not all of us are awesome at what we do.  Still, I came away from this “documentary” feeling as though every hardworking public school teacher I’ve known had been insulted, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Yes, it was also about Project Based Learning, not a new idea, but one that has come around again, and has a lot going for it – some students are obviously engaged by  this approach. But to view this film as being “about” PBL is to miss the important and consciously selected context that brings up  questions about content in schooling, the purpose of education, the future  of work, social justice and worker protection, and more.

Regardless of disclaimers, this film glorifies free market capitalism – which has led to the hollowing  out of the middle class via the race to the bottom even though Salman Khan says it’s not about China, and America has to win.

Win what?

High Tech High students come away from their school  year(s) with 40%-60% less content knowledge than peers in “regular” schools. Does content matter?

Fundamentally,High tech High seems to be  based in many instances on promising students that everything they do and every idea they have is “creative”, that they are destined for a life in which what they want to do in the moment is primary every minute of the day,  and that if they are bored, it’s someone’s fault and that needs to change right away. ( I’m not extolling boredom, but…… )

A study guide (below) was provided for post-film discussion. The discussion was whatever evolved post-film in random small groups, or 1:1, in the foyer of Oak Bay High School.

Worth considering in the discussion: David Brooks in the New York Times:

Most Likely to Succeed” is inspiring because it reminds us that the new technology demands new schools. But somehow relational skills have to be taught alongside factual literacy. The stairway from information to knowledge to wisdom has not changed. The rules have to be learned before they can be played with and broken.

 

Most Likely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 1/16: Ed Policy & Directions: Technology For Learning

 

The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria.

Official approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings and official voting records posted on the SD61 website under “Board of Education” menu one month after the meeting. Agendas  posted for the public the Friday before the meeting.

P1: Disclaimer / Backgrounder
P2: Ed Policy Standing Committee Report
P3: SD61 Some Applicable Bylaws / Standing Committees / BC School Boards Letters Link
P4: District PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs

Links for more info /sources underlined.

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records January 2012 –December  2015. The District now posts a record of motions carried, but the motions that fail are equally interesting. (They do appear in the minutes of meetings, along with the vote, but not until a month after the meeting.)

Next Meetings
Tues Feb 9/16 7 pm: Operations  Standing Committee
Mon Feb 15/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting
Mon Mar 1/16 7 pm: Ed Policy & Directions / Operations combined
Mon Mar 29/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting

SD61 Greater Victoria School District:

  • approx 20,000 students
  • 27 Elementary Schools
  • 10 Middle Schools
  • 7 Secondary Schools
  • 13 Programs of Choice, 155 BAA courses
  • School District for Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, part of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations
  • Approximately 650 adult learners register with the SD61 Continuing Education / Distributed Learning Program
  • 6th largest employer in the Capital Regional District
  • 2015-16 budget of $206,361,204. (Out of that, nine Trustees are each paid approximately $1,400 a month, and are expected to attend two meetings a month. Each Trustee has access to an individual $2000 annual professional development fund, which at this point, rolls over if not used. BCSTA AGM, etc. )

Legally required reports (Section 72 Reports) from In Camera meetings are posted beside the relevant meeting. (Click “view all” on the Bylaws, Policies and Regulations  menu).  “Section 72” refers to Section 72 (3) of the BC School Act which states “A board must prepare a record containing a general statement as to the nature of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person, who may make copies and extracts on payment of a fee set by the board.” [Kind of an antique process now that these are posted online.] Key word: “general”. Any report out beyond the very basic one required must be done by an in camera motion and majority vote.

SD61 Bylaw 9360.1 states: “In-camera items that may be discussed confidentially include legal, property, personnel and privacy matters as defined by provincial legislation.  Full board meetings must be held in public unless the board decides that it is in the public’s interest to hold a private session (closed or in-camera meeting). However, it is important not to abuse this power. Potential controversy or embarrassment to the board is not usually sufficient reasons for an in-camera meeting.”

Civic governments are bound by the Community Charter (except for the City of Vancouver, which adheres to the Vancouver Charter) and move into in camera meetings by a  motion made by a Councillor in a public meeting and carried by majority vote of the Council.  The public has to leave for the duration of the secret meeting and them come back. School Boards are governed by the BC School Act which allows  Chairs to set in camera meetings any time, often before public meetings.

No audio or video recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. Motions may be shortened but retain essential wording.Seconders not noted (or needed in Committees).

Jan 18/16:Board Meeting:The Record Off The Record: Update on Transitional Home (temporary shelter), Seismic Upgrades

The Record Off The Record is  my personal record of and  commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, usually one  month after the meeting.

P1: Recent Letters of Interest
P2:
Backgrounder
P3: Board Meeting Report
P4: District PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs

Next Meetings
Mon Feb 1/16 7 pm Ed Policy and Directions : Location TBA
Tues Feb 9/16 7 pm Operations Policy and Planning, Tolmie Bldg
Mon Feb 15/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting, Tolmie Bldg

Meeting agendas posted on SD61 website Friday before the meeting.

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – December 2015.

Links for more info /sources underlined.

184964 Rezansoff Outgoing-1

184964 Rezansoff Outgoing-2

Jan 11/16: Operations: The Record Off The Record: Definition of a SD61 Asset (Corporate Naming Rights) / Crumb Rubber

McNally: That the Superintendent recommend policy that would specifically define physical assets based on the Cariboo-Chilcotin District 27 wording [quoted in document above] : that assets include all real property, including but not limited to teacherages, portables, vehicles, equipment, office furniture, computer equipment, electronic waste, library and text books,and obsolete inventory and / or supplies. / Defeated. For: McNally, Paynter Against: Leonard, Nohr, Watters

The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria.

Official approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings and official voting records posted on the SD61 website under “Board of Education” menu one month after the meeting. Agendas  posted for the public the Friday before the meeting.

P1: Disclaimer / Backgrounder
P2: OPPS  Standing Committee Report
P3: Some Applicable SD61 Bylaws /  BC School Boards Advocacy Letters
P4: District PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs

Links for more info /sources in blue.

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records January 2012 – June 2015. The District now posts a record of motions carried, but the motions that fail are equally interesting. (They do appear in the minutes of meetings, along with the vote, but not until a month after the meeting.)

Next Meetings
Mon Jan 18/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting: Tolmie Board Room
Mon Feb 1/16 7 pm: Ed Policy and Directions: Location TBA
Tues Feb 9/16 7 pm: Operations : Tolmie Board Room
Mon Feb 15/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting: Tolmie Board Room

SD61 Greater Victoria School District:

  • approximately 20,000 students
  • 27 Elementary Schools
  • 10 Middle Schools
  • 7 Secondary Schools
  • 13 Programs of Choice, 155 BAA courses
  • School District for Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, part of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations
  • Approximately 650 graduated adult learners register with the SD61 Continuing Education / Distributed Learning Program
  • Approximately 20 non-graduated adults enrolled
  • 6th largest employer in the Capital Regional District
  • 2015-16 budget of $206,361,204.
  • 9 Trustees @ approximately $1,400 a month each,; expected to attend two meetings a month. Each Trustee has access to an individual $2000 annual professional development fund, which at this point, rolls over if not used.

Legally required reports (Section 72 Reports) from In Camera meetings are posted beside the relevant meeting. (Click “view all” on the Bylaws, Policies and Regulations  menu).  “Section 72” refers to Section 72 (3) of the BC School Act which states “A board must prepare a record containing a general statement as to the nature of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person, who may make copies and extracts on payment of a fee set by the board.” [Kind of an antique process now that these are posted online.] Key word: “general”. Any report out beyond the very basic one required must be done by an in camera motion and majority vote.

SD61 Bylaw 9360.1 states: “In-camera items that may be discussed confidentially include legal, property, personnel and privacy matters as defined by provincial legislation.  Full board meetings must be held in public unless the board decides that it is in the public’s interest to hold a private session (closed or in-camera meeting). However, it is important not to abuse this power. Potential controversy or embarrassment to the board is not usually sufficient reasons for an in-camera meeting.”

Civic governments are bound by the Community Charter (except for the City of Vancouver, which adheres to the Vancouver Charter) and move into in camera meetings by a  motion made by a Councillor in a public meeting and carried by majority vote of the Council.  The public has to leave for the duration of the secret meeting and them come back. School Boards are governed by the BC School Act which allows  Chairs to set in camera meetings any time, often before public meetings.

Trustees and student representatives are referred to by last name only for brevity; “The Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria)” is referred to as “the Board”. No audio or video recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. Motions may be shortened but retain essential wording.Seconders not noted (or needed in Committees).

Trustees are assigned by the Board Chair as members of the two Standing Committees, Ed Policy and Operations Policy.  Board and Committee agenda setting is the prerogative of the Chairs, with input from senior administration.

OPPS:
Chair Leonard; McNally, Paynter, Watters  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga)
Ed Policy:
Chair Nohr; Ferris, Orcherton, Whiteaker  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga)