There’s an argument on college campuses. This argument creates silos and pits divisions against one another. Who is the most important? Advancement might argue that they are. After all, they bring in donations for new buildings and scholarships. Student affairs might claim they are. They provide fundamental services that aid in retention of students. Enrollment management might say they’re the most important. Without them, well, there would be no students. Academic affairs has a seat at this table as well…for all the obvious reasons.
The problem with this argument is that it really shouldn’t be an argument at all. You can’t have graduate students without undergraduate students. You can’t have undergrads without high school students. High school students come from middle school, and middle from elementary.
Education as a whole is the most important.
I’m fairly well versed on the higher education space (although FAR from an expert). I've experienced it and worked it. I’m well read on higher education topics and trends as a regular subscriber to tons of blogs and news outlets. And, clearly, I’m always seeking more information as a member of the #EMchat community.
A few weeks ago I was at a happy hour and the topic of education came up. I was excited because we started talking about higher education. I contributed, got to do an #EMchat plug (not a humble brag, @joeginese), and then the conversation shifted.
I was at a happy hour with a friend who had other friends come who I hadn’t met (my favorite kind of happy hour). They were teachers. Three of them worked for an elementary school, one for a high school. The conversation shifted to common core, testing, standards, and how [their] students just weren’t prepared. The conversation further shifted to education policy and reform.
As I listened, I realized just how disconnected I am with K12 education. I made a resolution in 2013 to dedicate more research time to the K12 space and reform. I’ve gotten off to a strong start, but this conversation really ignited the fire.
Higher education deserves a seat at the K12 education reform table. We need a stronger focus on the PK16 space as one system. Education shouldn’t be broken up into different segments in our lives, truncated by age and grade level. Instead, it should exist as one entity, strung together by policies that promote adaptive learning and personalized attention to those students that need it, resulting in a cohesive system where students are better able to transition from one stage to the next.
So why the argument of importance?