Schools that Matter

Schools that Matter™

Steve Van Bockern, EdD

Let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can build for our children. ~Lakota leader, Sitting Bull

Many of us in the United States wonder what kind of life the new administration will build for our children. During the contentious 2016 Presidential campaign, education never really took the center stage. Politicians often use their “love” of children to climb their personal ladders of success but either knowingly or unknowingly step on children to get their wins. Schools and teachers often become the whipping boy for politicians who know little about child growth and development and the devastating effect that poverty can have on that development.[1] They do not seem to be really interested in tackling that problem or the accompanying issue of racism. Instead, most seem to be attracted to test scores like Magpies are attracted to shiny objects. They use those test scores to blame and create a sense of crisis in our public schools, when in reality, our public schools do quite well when children arrive at the front door well-fed and rested. As more and more of our children show up stressed by the effects of poverty, learning often takes the back door. To fix this problem, “accountability” is championed through competition, charter schools, vouchers, and more testing.[2]

Time will tell what kind of life this new administration will build. While I point at politicians and criticize, my dad told me, “Remember, when you point a finger, three of your other fingers are pointing right back at you.” I don’t want to spend my professional life as a naysayer. I want to be part of the conversation about creating schools I would be happy to see my grandchildren attend.

[1] The Real Crisis in Education:  An Open Letter to the Department of Education by Krista Taylor (January 9, 2017) provides a reasoned criticism of the accountability movement including the pitfalls of poverty on learning.  Retrieved from
[2] For one perspective on the administration and education see Abdul-Alim, J. (2016). Experts wary of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 33(24), 6. Retrieved from  See also Klein, A., & Ujifusa, A. (2016). 5 key takeaways on education from the white house candidates. Education Week, 35(22), 20-21.

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Victoria Seminars

April 21-26, 2017, Victoria, BC
Network with leading-edge presenters and like-minded colleagues. Beneficial for all who work in prevention, treatment, and education with challenging children and youth.