Why Do We Need to Change At All?

Why do we need to change what we’re teaching our children? Most people have been pretty happy with Randolph Central, right? Just let my kids be happy, I don’t care if they learn as much math as possible in each grade–provided they’re learning and getting good grades. Here’s the trouble with that idea–as the superintendent I get to see the whole PK-12 continuum. I know our students can do more than we’ve expected of them in the past.

How do I know? Because for 25 years in education I’ve maintained relationships with graduates from Randolph, Gowanda, and Pine Valley. Think about this honestly now. How often has an 18 or 19 year old said to you, “Wow! I really worked hard in school! I was totally prepared for college, these professors are nothing compared to my high school teachers. Or, my employer is so happy with the way I can pick up a project and run with it. He wishes I could teach the other employees my basic math skills and how to communicate well in writing.”

I’ll tell you how often-NEVER. And that’s just not okay. We’re not here to hang out for 12 years, these are the most critical and accessible years of learning our children have and my personal and professional mission is to make them the most advantageous they can be for every RCS student. And that means every student is going to be expected to do his or her best–the same things I expected of my own two children and continue to expect to this day.

And here’s something else, our administrators are visiting classrooms and seeing our students meet the challenges. In listening to our teachers, I hear them saying that our students are accomplishing more than they thought possible. I have lots of thoughts about how this happened, about how we reached the point in education when not enough is expected of our students, but I will reserve that thinking for another time. I will only say that we are failing our brightest students as over the past several decades we expected too little of them which led them to expect too little of themselves. We see it every year as our juniors and seniors drop courses like Chemistry and Physics and Calculus for an easier route out of high school. Easier doesn’t make any of us better. And through the 1990’s when worrying about every child “winning” and their self esteem more than about challenging them was “de rigueur” didn’t help much either.

Yes, Randolph Central is a good school system already. But good isn’t enough for our teachers and students. If any District can collectively figure out how to successfully improve our school system, we can. Just like the teachers, I’m making good, thoughtful decisions every day, along with our entire leadership team. I’m listening, I’m considering and I’m adapting where needed. We aren’t mindlessly implementing the common core modules. We’re making the best local decisions we can and following the requirements of NYSED in purposeful ways. Just as we’ve always done. We’re also improving, expecting more of ourselves and our students, and striving to meet the highest standards possible.

Randolph has been #1 on the athletic fields and courts for many years. It’s time we step up and become #1 academically as well. That will, in fact, serve our students well in the long run as all will need good jobs some day and few, if any, will become professional athletes.

3 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing. I continue to enjoy your blog. The issues and challanges you face are the same or similar to the challanges we face in our school district (similar size as yours), and likely are similar or same to the challanges many school districts face throughout our country. Your blog presents a reasonable and thoughtful voice to dealing with our common issues.

    Fred Deutsch
    School Board Member
    Watertown, South Dakota

  2. Thank you for directing me to your Blog. Great stuff and I have learned some valid points from your views. I just want to say that you now have one person, (my wife Gretchen) that has stated that she learned (valued) more from Kathy Klee that any other of her professors at Clemson.
    RCS is a great to send our children and a great educational institution and athletic standard for our area. You can never eliminate the drama that goes on with our youth. Trust me, this has been a very trying week in our house hold with our daughter Rachel being accepted and then booted from National Honor Society, because another student came forward and demanded she be accepted if Rachel was in, due in part to an error Rachel made in her judgement, in her use of social media (this wasn’t around when we grew up). It’s a Bummer, but it also a valuable lesson in character building. Keep up the great work you are doing Kim. Go Cards.

    Howie

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