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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8 Comments

Filed under Broadlands, Heritage School District

8 responses to “One Size Fits All Has No Place in Education

  1. luvmydogs

    I’d have to agree here, the one size fits all has been my experience with my kids and the school. I’m not sure if the school doesnt’ realize that approach doesnt work, or if they can’t afford to embrace teaching a different way…I like the idea behind the Mission and Vision statements, but what I observed with my own children, is that there creativity and uniqueness were not embraced, just the opposite. We;ve struggled a lot. I think my child is considered a burden, and I am a problematic parent because I bring the same concerns up that the article mentions. It’s sad for our family. We feel discouraged.

  2. I like what you said — I do like the idea behind the mission and vision statements that Heritage has adopted. I wish they could implement those more effectively, though. Pretty-sounding words and statements are easy to put together, but enforcing those statements is another matter.

  3. luvmydogs

    I’d like to point out that the ‘remedial and supplemental services” are difficult to get. Your child needs to ‘qualify’ for them (probably excluding RTI) but outside of that, if they dont fit the ‘criteria’ the psychologist/school has, then they dont get the help. So either your kid is severly handicapped, or, they need to fit into that appropriate box. Struggling kids (like mine) seem to lean towards falling thru the cracks…not impaired enough for services, and make the grade just enough to pass state standards….
    Its hard to get help. It seems like the school isn’t open to changing that- they seem to stick to the minimum they have to do for the child. again, a sad and frustrating situation.

  4. Anonymous

    While I think its great that there are gifted kids in these schools the real problem lies with the kids who fall between the two! I am sorry to the parents that have these children that they do not have any program for them to use there talents but we should fix the remedial and supplemental service immediately. I do agree that if you kid doesn’t fit the exact type that the school says they are not important enough to get any help that is desperately needed. I was told that it is not up to the child’s doctor(s) or therapist(s) to say what he needs at school. While I see the point that the doctor does not spend as much time as the school does with our children I still know a specialist in this area knows more than these people who do one interview with your child that who knows what sort of mood they are in that day could say either. Obviously if the teacher and the parent are pushing for it then there is probably something needed to be done. I am sick of hearing that my child doesn’t qualify for this or that so what he needs he will be put on a waiting list til they can get all the paperwork and 3 evaluations done. Really? This is pathetic. While I’m glad he tests out of special education which we knew was not the issue I start to wonder if he wouldn’t have would he be getting the other things that are crucial to his development. Its ridiculous that you start to wish your kid would have been a little dumber in the testing so he could get the help that is needed. It’s amazing that the last school he was at pointed out that there was something wrong and recommend you go to a doctor and now the next school a year later when the signs are more obvious the doctors say doesn’t matter and they give you the run around. Since this is my first child in school and I am not a teacher nor really checked out any of this I am shocked. I always just figured that the schools did all they can to help children learn and excel as far as they can. Well not in this place. My doctor told me that this would be a battle and informed me that we need to be on top of the needs of my child earlier rather than later so he can overcome them. If I let the school handle this which is there job he would probably never overcome things that are crucial to his future. As a parent I will take things into my hands and do everything possible to get him the help he needs to move further but what about the kids that don’t have that? I wonder if the school feels good just letting them never achieve what they possibly could. I thought the people in the educational system were there to make a difference but I’m not so sure that is it. I am not talking about everyone there are teachers that are amazing and will fight for them but without support of school and everyone being on the same page its a never ending cycle of failure. I get sick of excuses for this and don’t believe that they are doing everything that needs to be done when if he relocated to schools 15 to 30 miles away he could receive the services he needs and more. Going to a small school like this with the class sizes this small is supposed to be a benefit for children. From what I can see its not at any level of intelligence your child is. If he gets the therapy needed by the end of the school year which has been a fight since he began school it will not be enough due to they are not available as much as he needs. I do not or ever understand why our children are put off because of budget cuts money is constantly being spent for the extracurricular activities and things that are not top priority.

    • Thanks for your comment. I totally agree — the school should be teaching to children regardless of what extra help they might need. And the school should not make it harder to get that help.

  5. Anonymous

    If you don’t like system, why not try home schooling? Seems like the thing to do.

    • I would home-school, but that removes many chances of socialization for the child. Also, I am not a licensed teacher and would not be entirely comfortable home-schooling my child, especially when I, and many other citizens, pay property and sales taxes to the district so that the district can adequately educate our children. If home schooling is the only option, then why send our kids to Heritage, and why live in this district? I think Heritage should strive to be the best it can be.

    • Anonymous

      Really? Im not a teacher and want my child to have the chances every kid has! So because my child needs services that the school is supposed to provide but because the fail at so many things I should take him out of school that he loves and away from his friends to b at home 24/7. If u read my comment then you would get that its not the system its the school! Other school put the effort in getting what is needed for their students and dont just give excuses! I do not feel I need to homeschool my child because they can’t get there act together! Until you have to deal with something of this sort I wouldn’t start throwing around things like you should teach him! Do I pay taxes for this school? yes I do! also I have took upon myself to get the services he needs because I wont just give up! But this is very expensive and should be done through school too and is not being done at all! I am not a teacher and want my child to have the same chances as others and he loves school so no I havent considered that! I have thought about transferring out in the next couple years if they don’t get some progress on this issue! Though its sad that someone would say to a parent well just homeschool the kid instead of fixing the schools failures!

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