During this month’s Mesquite ISD regular school board meeting, Superintendent David Vroonland presented the board with information on the current system of education and reimagining it for MISD students. 

The district’s goal is to create self-determinant adults who are in control of the quality of their freedom.

He spoke about the impact of standardized education and a means by which the district can de-couple from standardization while maintaining the standards of learning by maximizing the potential of students through individualized learning.

“Why is it important to look at this system of education that’s been in place for over 100 years and suddenly say, ‘We need to make a change’?” Vroonland asked.

The reasons are economic realities and rapid technological advances.

“The standardization of education was developed in order to ensure that we had people developed in order to do specific tasks in specific orders, and that’s what we’re still educating on. And yet the reality is that world is gone,” he said.

“Automation is going to continue to change the landscape of work. The estimation is 57 percent of the jobs are going to be vulnerable to automation. Those are jobs currently we’re creating children to go do and they’re going to be taken away,” he continued.

Vroonland added that consultants, crowd sourcing and artificial intelligence will become a part of every business's world, even in teaching.

“One in two graduates has to be prepared to go into that economy with also 57 percent of the jobs being automated,” he said. “That’s a significant shift in our economic landscape. How can a child be in control of the quality of their freedom if they aren’t prepared for a specific kind of landscape?”

Vroonland stated that standardize education limits potential. It was designed to rank order people and structured with that purpose in mind to figure out who would be the best managers and who would be the best workers.

“We need to undo that system to increase the potential of every child,” he said.

Vroonland also noted that standardized education does not account for the unique qualities of the individual; it measures against a prescribe standard rather than against the potential of the individual. It cannot maintain in an economy that is changing as rapidly as today’s economy, and it will not prepare students to be self-determinant adults in control of the quality of their freedom.

According to the presentation, change would mean creating a nimble and highly responsive/innovative classroom environment that differentiates learning based on student potential, finding a student’s potential (aptitude +passion) using choice and AI and create smart profiles that recognize distinctions or uniqueness in students; create unique pathways through a common education landscape, and build capacity in teachers to be able to analyze student performance against potential and to differentiate based on the potential.

The pathway to change includes continuing to engage district leaders in exploration, continuing to engage the community in exploration and continuing to engage Google in exploration/development.

Vroonland said ultimately they hope to develop a prototype program and bring it before the board in about a year, then work on implementing a pilot, explore changing the political dynamic, and engaging other districts in the conversation.

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