Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Monday, April 11, 2005

So What Goes On During A Professional Development Day?

Today was not a typical Professional Development day for me. Usually, these days are spent discussing the current status of our school and learning some new techniques or what the latest research is saying. Today was different.

I went to the Breaking Ranks II Conference in Wichita. This was a meeting of close to two hundred high school teams looking for ways to improve high school education in the state. It featured superintendents, principals, school board members and little old me, high school history teacher from Halstead Kansas. Here was the rundown:

Governor Sebelius: While I disagree with many of her views I will give her credit, she is a great speaker and she works a room well. She made some good points about the correlation between education and future earnings and how an educated workforce is the best incentive to draw business to the state. She raked the legislature over the coals and feels the Supreme Court will reject the current school budget which increased education spending by $127 million. Of course she also bashed No Child Left Behind.

Steve Abrams: He is from the State Board of Education. He is famous for his conservative stance on the teaching of evolution in schools. He spoke about the need for a more rigorous curriculum and better use of resources. He also advocates better communication among the government, people and education providers. He also bashed NCLB.

Andy Tompkins: He is the outgoing Commissioner of Education in the state of Kansas. He pointed out similarities in calls for education reform from government, principals associations, business, and the Gates Foundation. The common link was the call for a rigorous curriculum, content knowledge and the need for personalized education plans.

It was a productive day and I believe that our school has the opportunity to make some real positive changes in the future. The toughest hurdles will be convincing ‘traditional’ teaching staff members to get on board, finding resources, and keeping people excited about the prospects for change. I look forward to the challenge but I am still not totally on board until I feel we have full support from the administration.


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