Praise and Concern for IASC
Contributed by Peter Justin, Principal, Retired
As a retired school administrator, I was at first concerned to see an organization establish an accreditation system so different from the system used by most public and private schools.
My understanding now is that the International Association of Schools and Colleges (IASC) will grant accreditation to schools and assemblies that plan curriculum around each student, rather than adopting a curriculum in advance and then expecting the students to mold their learning styles and interests to what administrators or school boards think is appropriate for children of a certain age.
I didn't have that option when I was in school administration. It was either plan curriculum before knowing who the kids were or lose accreditation. I always thought that that method was terribly destructive of the individual child, however, in order to be in business, we had to mimic the public schools' system. It was a rather sorry situation.
We lost so many kids while I was working in the schools, just because we couldn't do much with the individual, given that we were dealing with twenty to thirty students in each classroom, and a curriculum that was formulated within individual departments, submitted to our board, and then back to the school for implementation.
Any teacher or school addressing students as individuals was always threatened by the "recognized" accrediting system. That was true when I was in the classroom, and it remained true when I became a principal.
I tried very hard to allow my teachers to vary curriculum and approach depending on the composition of their classes, but once we begin to sort kids by age instead of by what matters in their individual lives, the battle is pretty much lost.
I believe the day is gone when we can ignore the individual student and his or her interests and skills, that is, impose our sense of what is important, our sense of what should interest the individuals to be instructed. If we continue to ignore the individual, and insist on using a military style experience in our schools, our high school graduates will remain at the bottom of the pack internationally.
Also, I found that grouping by age, generally without reference to true ability, is disastrous for developing all levels of talent. The really gifted kids are held way back, and the really needy children are confused. In other words we make it possible for everyone to fail in our schools by not allowing each student to lead with his or her strengths most of the day.
It is very sad that our government only recognizes six regional accrediting bodies for the purpose of funding. That means that ALL tax money going to education is used to reinforce the very system that has resulted in such poor performing graduates.
After thirty years of watching the top-down tax supported system disadvantage high school students, I was excited to read about this new accreditation method, and hope and pray that local, state, and federal administrations will at least offer IASC accreditation recognition as an alternative to the current six regional organizations.
America will never again rise to the top of the scholastic world unless big changes in the accreditation process are adopted, especially at the middle school and secondary school levels.
The really sad thing also is that there is so much money out there convincing parents that their particular school is an exception to the rule of mediocrity. The billions of dollars allocated to the public schools provide enough advertising to overcome just about any poor performance measurement. Public schools can, in some districts, graduate about 30% of their students, or graduate valedictorians who need to take a full year of remedial courses at the college level.
Even American high school students taking and passing AP courses often need remedial attention when they enter freshman year of college. How can the taxpayer NOT want to see an alternative like the IASC survive?
Again, good job, Linda Christas. You really are offering the public something whose time has come, in my experience.
I predict though that the people in power, the people who have come up through the current system will realize very quickly that the IASC is a threat to their fiefdoms, and there will be great pressure from the top to financially starve the IASC.
I wouldn't be surprised if Linda Christas is criticized for sponsoring the IASC, even though there is no other credible source for student-first accreditation out there.
For example, I've seen some blog writers who consistently make serious errors in judgment regarding most things innovative because they don't realize that their opinions have been formed by the collective. After all, the collective has spent a lot of money to train them not to see that sometimes it's good for society to do something different in the face of a reality that isn't working, like the top-down, one-size-fits-all accrediting structure in the United States.
I hope you all will hang in there.