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TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY

 

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY

(First in a Series of Interviews with  Leaders in Education)

Featuring Dr. Kurt Landgraf

Note from Chuck Cascio: Given the difficult issues facing educators today in the USA, I am presenting a series in which I contact established educators and request their insights, in their own words, on a number of vitally important education issues. Readers who would like to comment on the views expressed may email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. My Twitter handle is @ChuckCascio. Not all comments will be responded to by me and/or the individuals interviewed but all will be read and, if appropriate, forwarded to others engaged in meaningful education reform. I am pleased to present as the first interview in this series of “Transforming Education Today” the views of Dr. Kurt Landgraf, whose profile follows:

Dr. Kurt Landgraf is a retired President of Washington College in Chestertown, MD. Kurt was also President of Educational Testing Service for 14 years, and President and CEO of DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals. His personal academic career includes a BS in Economics from Wagner College, a MS in Economics from Pennsylvania State University, a MEd from Rutgers University, an AMP from Harvard University, and five honorary doctorates. 

 

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>>>Recalling your own life as a student, going back as far as you would like, what do you remember as the most positive and most negative educational influences for you personally? I went to a lower socioeconomic city school  system in New Jersey. High school was actually on triple sessions because the town would not pass an  educational bond issue. Not much was expected of students. Very few went on to college. I was lucky because I  was recruited by Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, to play baseball there.

 

>>>Can you identify an educator (or educators) who provided you with uniquely positive insights into subject matter as well as teaching style? If so, please explain what made them unique. Professor William Maher, my Economics professor at Wagner, changed my life. He saw potential in me that no one else ever did. He encouraged me to start taking college seriously and to go for an advanced degree in Economics. 

 

>>>What do you see as the major challenges in education today? In K-12 education the major challenge is the differential funding by economic area. Often referred to as the Zip Code Differential, it impacts students in lifelong ways. That differential and the growth of non-public schools are increasingly disadvantageous to K-12 public education. In higher education, the costs associated with attending college are soaring and with it student debt. This reality is changing who wants to go--and/or who can go--to college. Every higher education sector, except select “elite “ institutions, is seeing enrollment declines, increased dropout rates, etc. Many colleges are facing serious financial pressure, with some even facing liquidation.  The community college group of schools is increasingly moving to a more technical education curriculum, but they are still struggling. 

 

>>>What do you consider to be the appropriate line between politics and education--including the role of Federal, state,and local governments as well as school boards--in establishing standards, content, and policy, particularly in K-12 public education?  I strongly believe in national standards for K-12 education, as is done in most of the developed countries of the world. The National Governors Association tried to implement basic standards but, after establishing them, they were undermined at the state and local levels. The United States Constitution does not mandate education but unless national standards with return on investment criteria are implemented, the US will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in student achievement. I would also argue that establishing a state board of education would be a positive influence as compared to the current environment of many local-based school boards.

 

>>>What can be done to encourage people to go into teaching or other areas of education? Pay a meaningful salary!!! Current compensation is still based upon the model where teachers were second family-income earners, primarily from women. By increasing pay, you will get more really good people attracted to teaching and staying in education for their careers.


>>>
Should high school and college students be encouraged to participate  in internships to help enrich their learning? If so, what can be done to stimulate this participation?   I think internships at every level, high school through Doctorates make a huge difference!!! These internships require partnerships with government, corporate, and other private sector organizations.

 

>>>What would you consider to be the single most important key to positive transformation of education in the US?  For me, the single most important thing is to reduce the role of socio-economic standing in determining resource allocation to education providers. Equal opportunity needs to become reality, not just a stated, well meaning goal. 

Copyright: Chuck Cascio and Kurt Landgraf; all rights reserved.