By the time I finished editing my post for discussion about forming a National Association for Public School Learning, it became clear I needed also to draft ideas about forming an Association of Public School Learners. I offer these notes respectfully as a complement to efforts of public school educators. Please let me know your thinking about the usefulness of these two associations to increase student learning rates rapidly in today's public schools. I think they're doable and timely, given the rapid increase in use of Tablet PCs, other mobile PCs, iPhones, texting, etc. among students.
Association of Public School Learners
The Association of Public School Learners (APSL) serves as a voice by public school students and alumni for students attending publicly supported education programs from birth through post doctoral study. It monitors an index of the external validity of public school instructional processes the way pollsters monitor fluctuating voter interests in elections.
In general, APSL takes the position that learning inherently resides as an assumed human right in the English common law and its expressions and derivations that govern life in the United States. Individuals hold this right directly, not necessarily through proxies or mediators without the individual’s informed consent.
For students to exercise this right, APSL members seek the most efficient, effective state-of-the-art learning offerings for each public school student whenever and wherever each student demands. It represents this ideal the way business and professional associations as well as unions represent their members in public policy matters, student grievances, and educator contract negotiations that affect student learning venues, styles and rates.
Public school learning first and center, then work backwards to create conditions that make state-of-the-art learning happen promptly and most effectively on demand.
Without a Voice
Public school students do not have a direct, single, authoritative voice during formation and implementation of policies and practices that determine venues, content, and processes of their schooling. Instead, others speak for learners with authority ranging from religion to politics to tradition to legislation to scholasticism to empirical science. Their voices carry inherent conflicts of interest, whether as parent, teacher, legislator, publisher, academic or scientist and however well intended and informed. They receive payment and other benefits for what they do irrespective of impacts their actions have on the efficiency of each student’s learning rate.
An Inherent Historical Voice
Students have had an inherent indirect voice in education policies and programs to the extent that their learning caused changes in teacher performance. For centuries, teachers have worked with others to create settings and lessons that support more learning. During the past 100 years, mostly in the middle of the 20th century, behavioral scientists described a relative few empirically based ways that people learn. Teachers learned these principles during their preparation for teaching certification. Use of these principles in lessons offered by teachers measurably increases student learning rates. Yet, for many reasons most learners fail through this indirect route to cause sufficient changes in teacher behavior to yield routine state-of-the-art student learning on demand.
Evidence of this failure exists in the lack of use of logic and vocabulary of learning by groups, for example, those that discuss teacher performance pay, pedagogy, school administration, and education legislation. In these examples and similar assertions, interests other than efficient learning take precedence in deciding policies, programs and evidence of public school learning.
A Direct, Authoritative Voice
APSL offers a direct, authoritative, unified student voice to assert each learner’s right to the most efficient learning offering available to anyone else in or out of a public school. It seeks to capture majority mindshare when policy makers, program implementers, publishers, learning device manufacturers, media, funding agencies, et al. think of public school learning.
It gives priority to these generic questions that ultimately affect the impact of budget line items on public school learning :
1. What impact does this program, policy, or other practice, proposal or decision have on student learning rates?
2. Has anyone demonstrated a more efficient way for students to achieve this same outcome?
3. How do we know that this is the most efficient learning rate possible?
4. What does this learning rate increase cost per unit of increase?
5. What harm will occur with learning rates, if no one implements this request or proposal and what evidence will exist of that harm?
APSL uses a state-of-practice organization to support implementation of this right in public schools by drawing on attorneys, learning analysts, technology specialists, and others to help clarify adjustments in policies and practices that will increase public school learning rates.
State of the Art Learning
Experimental empirical behavioral science findings have indicated for decades that learning has a structure across settings and people. Likely this structure exists for learners irrespective of instructional process, style or content of a teacher, lesson, or electronic communication device such as a Tablet PC or television movie. Students labeled gifted, developmentally disabled, troubled, and normal in Pre-kindergarten through post doctoral study use the same learning structure (that is, they learn the same way). In general, learning occurs most efficiently when instruction follows learning structure irrespective of instructional content or level of study.
ASPL accepts that certified public school teachers know this structure from higher and continuing education teacher preparation coursework about learning facts and theories.
ASPL considers these findings a code for deciphering the extent to which instructional packages and their uses meet state-of-the-art learning criteria.
ASPL uses calculations of learning rates, among other indices, to demonstrate variations in state-of-the-art learning among learning related policies and practices.
These indices demonstrate from a learners view an external validity of instructional processes.
Accountability for Learning Rates
ASPL examines public programs and policies from formation to implementation in order to clarify their less than state-of-the-art impact on public school student learning rates for each student and for aggregates of students.
Student Voice Format
ASPL exists as a 501 (c) iii organization chartered in the state of (To Be Decided). The Board of Directors consists of current and former public school students who hold sufficient resources and leadership to attract other resources to advocate for public school state-of-the-art learning first and center in public school policies and programs. An executive director oversees and manages operations. Staff includes:
1. Learning analysts skilled in assessing relationships between resource allocations (instruction, Tablet PCs, venue, etc.) and learning (school academic performance changes).
2. Legal analysts skilled in learning aspects of constitutional and case law, negotiations, and litigation.
3. Educators and behavior managers skilled in developing, instructing, and assessing state-of-the-art learning rates.
4. Advanced technologists skilled in developing, testing, and publishing state-of-the-art learning programs aided by state-of-the-art electronic communications hardware.
Instruction consumes time, the one irreplaceable learner resource. Each learner has an unknown, limited number of clock seconds to live. Each learner’s voice reflects that resource.
ASPL gives priority to the time premise when considering the relative value of a learning policy, program, practice, or lesson. Those that allow a learner to meet criteria faster than others hold higher value. (One word yielding one response rates higher than two words yielding one response. Instruction for efficient learning appears the most difficult to offer.)
Existing education special interest groups continue to add valuable ideas, resources, and encouragement for public schools learning. Yet, none of them has as its sole reason for existence presenting the voice of public school students calling for direct, prompt state-of-the-art increase in public school learning efficiency. This voice holds respect for other voices, but sees them as having conflicts of interest that compromise student learning rates in as yet unmeasured ways. ASPL will clarify these compromises.
Traditional wisdom holds that students have limited rights. Instead, they have a duty to learn whatever a teacher offers and in whatever manner any teacher offers that content. ASPL accepts this duty while encouraging educators to use state-of-the-art learning practices.
(More later. What do you think about the idea of an association of learners so far?)