Scheduling an event with author Harold Kwalwasser

Harold Kwalwasser is available for speaking engagements on one of these three speech topics:

The Challenge for Educators: Moving from the 20th Century to the 21st: Replacing Mass Production Education with a School that can educate Every Child

In the 20th Century, education leaders built our system of instruction around the mass production model. We had one curriculum, taught one way, by one teacher, in one classroom. It was not flexible enough to educate every child, but our goal was not to ensure that every child can learn.

Then, in the wake of the civil rights revolution and the decline in American manufacturing, which took away good paying jobs for people who had a minimal education, we changed what we believed to be the goal of our elementary and secondary schools. We decided every child must be able to learn.

It was admirable, but we had an education system that was not up to the task. In the past 20 years, scattered public school districts, charters, and parochial schools have figured out what to do. Today, the problem is not that we lack a vision for how to educate every child. What we don’t have is an agreement among adults that everyone get out of the rut of their long-held comfort zones in order to do something new and better.

Over the course of 20-25 minutes, Hal Kwalwasser will outline the new vision and then help us confront all the reasons we hesitate to embrace these ideas. The takeaway is not just a better understanding of what might work, but also understanding the importance of attitude and perception in making the change a reality.

The Most Important Choice a Parent Can Make: How to Identify a Good School for My Child

In America, no parent has to meekly accept the school to which your public school district assigns your child. It is an age of choice and an age of reform. You can either find a different and better school in many districts, or you can stand up and fight to makeover a school that is not living up to its potential.

In either case, the question is the same: What should I be looking for in a high performing school?

Hal Kwalwasser recently spent several months visiting high performing or transforming public school districts, charters, private and parochial schools to see what is working.

Over the course of 20-25 minutes, Hal Kwalwasser will describe what he found, focused on the ten traits of a high performing school. Some of these traits are about the attitudes and perceptions that principals and teachers should have to meet the goal of educating every child to the limits of his or her ability. And some of the traits are about concrete practices that successful districts employ so that they can meet the needs of every child, no matter what that child’s learning skills, interests, or attitudes.

The takeaway is a checklist for any parent to use when checking out a school: A list of questions that help identify whether they will be able to bring out the best in a child and prepare him or her for college or a career. With this knowledge, parents will be empowered to pick what will work for their child and be able to hold accountable those schools or districts that fall short.

The Challenge to Every Community in America: Uniting to Build Great Public Schools for their Children

Every community wants good schools. High performing schools enhance property values, create community pride, and guarantee a better economic future.

Mayors or school board members regularly promise improvement, but the promises too often lead to disappointment. Is it that those making the promises do not know what really makes a good school tick? Or is it that adult interests and simple politics get in the way?

Hal Kwalwasser has studied why 40 high performing and transforming schools have gotten great results, and what it took them to get there.

Over the course of 20-25 minutes, Kwalwasser will explain that the road to success is not simple, and getting down its full length never easy or quick. But, as many of these districts have shown, it can be done.

Kwalwasser’s discussion dissects current reform ideas for changing teacher pay and ending tenure. He shows why they are not central to the renewal of our schools. He describes what good schools have really done and offers it as the model that committed parents and community leaders should follow in building quality schools.

The takeaway for listeners is a better understanding of the current political debate on school reform, and an agenda for how to get real change accomplished. His goal is not to have people side with teachers or management, with reformers or unions. His goal is to show you the path to side with the kids to whom you have promised a better future.

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