There’s talk sometimes that all is not right with the children, or in the case of a recent op-ed by Pennsylvania Senator Ryan Aument, that all is not right with our public schools. While that doom-and-gloom position may win headlines and votes, it’s far from the reality on the ground, at least here in Berks County. Our school districts are using innovative, creative learning experiences to ensure students have the skills they need to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life.
We recently attended the Governor Mifflin School District’s first-ever Mustang Nation Learning Expo, where teachers and students at every grade level showcased innovation and expertise for the community at large. The visitors at the packed-house event had the chance to experience more than 80 interactive presentations, during which students were eager to share their knowledge on topics ranging from Entrepreneurship in Elementary School to Analyzing AI: Student Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence through a Literary Lens. We even met a group of first graders who have become real experts on Rainbow Trout. Throughout each presentation, at every grade level, students were applying their classroom learning to real world questions and problems.
Contrary to Senator Aument’s assertion that our students are being failed by an “antiquated system … with goals that are no longer relevant,” the Governor Mifflin event demonstrated ways our schools are preparing and motivating students not only to enter today’s workforce, but to be ready for the uncharted jobs of the future in disciplines of science, math, technology, humanities, arts, and beyond.
Teachers and administrators at Governor Mifflin are so determined to ensure their students hit the ground running upon graduation, they’ve become students themselves in the Total Experience Learning® program at Albright College. This groundbreaking teaching methodology supports educators and gives them the tools to transform what could be hum-drum lessons into hands-on, interactive, entrepreneurial learning experiences. There’s a real focus on encouraging students’ organic curiosity and interests to create meaningful engagement.
And, it is not just Governor Mifflin School District. School districts, administrators, and teachers across Berks County, from Reading to Boyertown and beyond, have engaged in Total Experience Learning programs, to ensure that K-12 education in Berks County continues to be relevant and motivating to today’s students, and that the PA Department of Education learning goals are not just met, but exceeded.
A dedication to continuous improvement and lifelong learning is critical not only for our students and teachers, but also for our elected leaders. Senator Aument’s proposal to study the current education system and learn from other systems around the world is admirable. But to start from the premise that all parts of the current system are irrevocably broken and that increased funding is not the answer fails to recognize the stellar achievements of dedicated administrators, teachers, and students across the Commonwealth. Our local schools rise to the challenge of educating our students for a global economy every day, despite being funded at wildly varying levels with little to no regard for the demographic and social make up of their student cohorts.
Rather than simply dismissing all PA public education as broken, the legislature should look at the actual data and do its constitutionally mandated job to provide for a fair and adequate level of school funding so that all children, regardless of their zip code, can achieve the kind of success that we saw at the Mustang Nation Learning Expo.