Governor's Conference on Education

"School, Goals and the 1990s"

Wichita, Kansas: Nov. 2, 1989 

 Speakers included: Lamar Alexander, president's advisory council; Dr. Frank Newman, presidential fellow at Carnegie Foundation of the Advancement of Teaching; Rudy Perpich, Minnesota governor....



Introduction:  "We have saved the best for last.  Dr. Shirley McCune, who will talk about restructuring of schools, is a native of Colorado, an educational researcher, a federal executive.  her interest have included community development and restructuring education to meet need for informational society.  Currently she is the Senior Director with the mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory and provides great assistance to schools in our region and state departments. She has received numerous degrees, worked with NEA, US Department of Education, state offices... She worked with our state department, Kansas schools for the Twenty-First Century... Our state department in Kansas would not be where it is today without Dr. McCune.

Find more background information in Star Wars and Atlantis 

and  Brave New Schools, Chapter 3 - A New Way of Thinking

Dr. Shirley McCune: "It seems to me that far too much of our efforts have been focused on the issue of let's find a short term fix... rather than... understanding that what we are about is total restructuring of our society.  What's happening in America today... is not simply a chance situation in the usual winds of change.  What it amounts to is a total transformation of our society.  We have moved into a new era... But what I'm not sure we have really begun to comprehend and act on sufficiently is the incredible amount of organizational restructuring and human resource development restructuring.

          There are only two things that really matter: One is the information capital that we can put together.... [the other is] to produce human capital.

          Schools have always had two tough things to do in society.  One... to conserve the past and to take knowledge of past generations and move it ahead so that our children can know what happened in the past and that we can conserve the advancements that our society has already made to a certain date.  That's the conserving function of schools and we do well at that....

          The other function of schools, which sounds paradoxical, yet is not, is the fact that we have to prepare students, not for today's society, but for a society that's 20, 30, 40, 50 years down the road.  So we have to anticipate what the future is, then move back and figure out what it is we have to do today.  This is the anticipatory socialization or the social change function of schools. 

          During the past ten years we've been going through a reform movement.  That reform movement began with governors of this nation... their concern was to understand the very close relationship between economic development and human capital.  It may be easy to say, if it's broke, why fix it?  Why should we try to deal with that?  Unfortunately, while the system still continues to work for some parts of the population, it isn't going to work over the long run.  What has to happen at conferences like this... is a commitment of understanding that what we have to do is build a future.  It is the future that motivates us, not what we are doing now.

          We have to understand the breath of the task before us.  You cannot begin to think about restructuring education without understanding that our total society is in crisis of restructuring.  You can't get away from it...  you can't go into business and hide from the fact that what we are facing is a total restructuring of society.

            First of all we have to understand that we are in a new economy We can't rest in that things will remain as they are.  Next five years may be the most chaotic in or lives.  .. If you talk with business men, most of them understand the critical importance of human resource development.

            Major challenge: our society is becoming older.  Eighty percent of our wealth today is held by people 50 and over.  And of that particular group, that wealth is going to have to be invested in future generation... Thirty percent of district's children are either physically emotionally, or sexually abused.  When we look at a society that allows 30% of its children to be abused, it seems to me that we have to ask ourselves about quality of our adults that we have.

            People say we're spending more on schools but getting less. I disagree totally.  We're spending more on schools, but we're taking on more... and that trend will continue... We're not only feeding kids at noon, we're feeding them i the morning.  We, in fact, are providing more psychological services and special Ed services.  More and more, the school is the cob or the center of all human resource development services in the school.

            We have to have better people in this society.  Not only do we have to grow better kids, kids that can function at higher physical, intellectual and social levels--but we have to have adults can be leaders with visions of where we can go in the future.

            Curriculum is not simply putting some facts in kids' minds--and it isn't teaching the past history of the world.  While that is important... we also have to prepare them with a range of knowledge and skills that they are going to need for their personal psychological well being, their self esteem, their ethics, their ability to give and care for others, with group and organizational al sills, leadership skills, conflict resolution skills, working with people who are different than they are.  We're going to have to provide them with career development skills...

            If you want to be worried about a school, be worried about a classroom where it's quiet.  Because one of the things we now about learning is that the only way we learn to think is when we are talking to others or writing... And when you see row after row of kids sitting in bolted down desks, be very worried.  They may be learning some facts, but they're not learning how to think or how to process information. 

            We also need to restructure or curriculum.  What the revolution has been in curriculum is that we no longer are teaching facts to children.  It is almost impossible for us to guess the kinds of facts that they will need.  Basically we are still measuring the output of schools by national tests which measure nothing but factual recall. The issue for most children and the issue for society, is that what is changed in education today, is that we no longer see the teaching of facts and information as the primary outcome of education.  We use facts and we use changing facts in a variety of ways to teach them information processing.  and the reason for that is that none of us can guess what they will need in the future.  we must also provide more individualized and learning-directed learning.  We have to understand that the only way anyone ever learns is from their own frame of reference, and that all learning begins with the affective parts of life.

            One of the developments that is going on in more and more communities, is taking place in Phoenix.  The mayor of that city has an educator whose job is to work with the social welfare community and put together a total network of human resource activities in that community, where we can actually provide for all the needs of the children and adults....  We know is that the earlier we intervene into the lives of people, the cheaper it is.  I would hope this state would undertake a series of demonstration projects to build learning communities in some rural areas--where we can serve all ages, where we begin to demonstrate what can happen when we put people together and deal with them in a holistic fashion--and begin to demonstrate schools of the future and encourage the creativity we need. 

Mike Hayden, Kansas:  "Goals for education... We shouldn't settle for mediocrity... Goals must stretch the full potential in each of us.  We must be willing to develop strategies--challenging and controversial strategies to obtain these goals.  With the nation focused on education, we must take advantage of this...."

Commentator:  "So there you have it: A global educational revolution is under way, which wants babies and pregnant mothers cared for by the schools, just as in national socialism.  And educational revolution, despising facts and academic environment, just like national socialism.  A revolution which sees children as human capital to be used by the nation to advance its economic competitive welfare is national socialism.

            A reporter friend of the Educational Research Institute called Dr. Shirley McCune's lab which supplies teacher trainers and curriculum strategies.  He asked for paper work to better understand the new quality performance education, which is also known as Outcomes Accreditation.  This is what he got:  a spread sheet listing methods being used in all American schools... methods designed to accomplish the first goal of the radical revolutionaries: change beliefs.

            The teacher training and the new QPA is based on the work of Pavlovian behaviorist, BF Skinner and the taxonomy classification of Benjamin Bloom.  As Bloom himself stated so well, "The purpose of education and schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of children.  And good teaching is defined as challenging the students' fixed beliefs."

Later the same month, she -- with the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory -- stated,

"Radical change is necessary now; you cannot escape it.... Strategies and behaviors must be changed because the dawning of this new age is far more significant than the transformation of the national and world economics taking place...."

Dennis Laurence Cuddy, Ph.D., Chronology of Education with Quotable Quotes, page 85.

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