Monthly Archives: March 2014

One Size Fits All Has No Place in Education

A major concern of many families in the Heritage school district is whether their children are being taught and challenged to their appropriate educational level, whether the children need extra assistance or extra stimulation.  A “one size fits all” philosophy has no place in education.  Our children are not a glove bought at a department store; they are unique and must be taught to their individual levels.

I should note that, for many reasons, I am a strong opponent of the “Common Core” curriculum; but that is not the focus of this article.  Common Core, and the standards it seeks to meet, are here – and must be met by the district that has implemented those standards.

The Heritage school district has failed to meet standardized “yearly adequate progress” for multiple years.  It appears that Heritage is not meeting the basic instructional needs of students who may need extra help in learning the basics.  By repeatedly failing to meet those standards, parents of Heritage students may be free to send their children to attend other school districts that are meeting the standards.

I also wonder what opportunities exist at Heritage for children who may excel beyond their expected grade level in various areas.  Teaching to those kids, in a one-size-fits-all philosophy, only bores them and stifles their creativity and love of learning.  Heritage obviously is not able to meet the minimum State standards, so how can the district meet the needs of its more advanced students?  Seeking State exemptions to let the school year out early, under the minimum number of instructional days, further undermines Heritage’s goal of providing “enough time” for kids to learn according to their needs.

The Heritage 2013-2014 budget includes $87,788 in spending for K-12 “remedial and supplemental programs.”  It also provides for $20,742 in “improvement of instruction services” and $87,700 in “educational media services.”  Sporting activities are not itemized, but “interscholastic programs” – whatever that means — were budgeted $125,900.  (See Heritage FY2014 Budget:  http://www.heritage.k12.il.us/about/SDB2014FORM.xls).  The salaries and benefits of the district’s three administrators amount to roughly $319,976.90 (see “Administrative Compensation Report” at http://www.heritage.k12.il.us/about/Administrator%20Salary%20Compensation%20Report%20fy14.pdf).

“Gifted programs” were allocated $0.00.  Not a single penny.

In its “Mission & Vision Statements,” Heritage states that its mission is to “inspire a passion for learning.”  It also recognizes that “students are unique in their needs, … and will be inspired in different ways.”  “When given a stimulating environment, enough time and the right opportunities, students will learn …”  “The best learning process occurs when students and staff are motivated to strive for excellence.”  (Summarized from the Mission & Vision statements, at http://www.heritage.k12.il.us/missionvision/default.html).

In 2006, at least 5.8% of children in Illinois schools were deemed to be “gifted.”  (See The National Center for Education Statistics report at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_049.asp).  The number of gifted children in the Heritage district may be more and it may be fewer.  Regardless of their number, their “unique” needs must be met, as promised by the Heritage district.  They must be provided with a “stimulating environment” and the “right opportunities” so that they can “learn” to the fullest of their potential.  With no funds allocated to such needs, it is hard to imagine that such needs are being met in any meaningful capacity.

Heritage allocated significant funds to remedial education, and even more funds to “interscholastic programs.”  Why is Heritage not allocating any funds to gifted programs? For a school that has recently constructed several new gymnasiums, the lack of funding for any gifted program is stunning.  It appears that Heritage values sporting abilities over education, despite its mission statement.

Before asking the students to live up to Heritage’s mission statement and related goals, the Heritage district needs to live up to those standards itself.  A one-size-fits-all educational philosophy does not meet those standards, and deprives our children of educational opportunities.  A “one size fits all” philosophy works for gloves or snow pants, but it does not work for students who need to learn.  The individual educational needs of all students must be met.

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