Committee on high schools snubs key stakeholders: students themselves

Rufus King High School, Milwaukee (Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

Here we go again … the state legislature has created the Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School. The committee met for the first time on July 16.

It has an impressive list of members and invited speakers who know what they are talking about when it comes to what employers want vs. what high school students (and sometimes graduates) have to offer. All the “right” players are at the table, but, will this just be another game of “let’s talk about it and get nothing accomplished”?

Committee chair State Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) was on Wisconsin Public Radio talking about this first meeting and he had some interesting things to say. For instance we are teaching “today’s students, for tomorrow’s world, in yesterday’s schools”.

Yes, he is right. Now what? He also said of the curriculum offered in Wisconsin’s high schools “… if it doesn’t interest them (the students) they are not interested in learning it.”

Makes sense, right?

So, I called in to the radio station and asked if, among all the people on the committee and in the room for this first meeting of a really important topic, were there any high school students, or recent graduates or anyone under the age of 21? His answer: No.

It just seems to me that if you are talking about the current high school systems and the future of high school education, it might pay to talk to those sitting in the classroom.

If Sen. Olsen is correct… if kids can’t learn if they are not interested in what’s being taught… maybe we should ask them. Maybe the committee should hold it’s next meeting at Milwaukee Area Technical College and invite any recent high school graduate, any student studying for a GED, any first or second year student at MATC to give their thoughts, too.

It couldn’t hurt to ask…

1 Comment

  • Rebecca Kemble says:

    Here’s a link to my report on the 5 hour meeting:

    If the result of this committee’s work turns out to be “let’s talk about it and get nothing accomplished,” that would be a benign result. A waste of time, but far better than if it results in laws that further deregulate virtual schools and give even more access to curriculum and public school coffers to non-educator political cronies of Sen. Olsen whose interest is in their companies’ bottom lines.

    Nobody – not one single person on that committee – even came close to talking about the developmental or learning needs of students. We mustn’t let the business community hijack very important discussions about the future of public education.

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