Corky O'Callaghan

More Promises to Fix Our Schools

It was predictable.  On Tuesday night as the election returns rolled in and the victory speeches began, one after another, the victors promised – no doubt with good intentions – to reform our education system and fix our “failing” schools.   My point here is not to bash our political leaders.  I believe that most of them are sincere and doing what they feel they have been elected to do – which is to represent us, serve as our voice and fix our problems.  The big problem, however, is that they are hearing from everyone but the American people when it comes to education.  And there is good reason for this. Other than the growing public concern about the Common Core, most people are in the dark about how our nation’s education reform movement is impacting our schools and communities.  They are unaware that our students are being over tested, our teachers are physically and emotionally exhausted and our tax dollars are being diverted to the corporate sector to replace our public schools with a privately managed, free market system of education.  As long as our citizens remain in the… Continue reading

Charlie’s Warning

With election day tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to share a thoughtful warning from my friend and colleague, Charlie Irish.  Charlie served as superintendent of the Medina City Schools, Medina, Ohio, for 13 years and is now the point person for the Santa Rita Collaborative on an important research initiative with the Kettering Foundation.  Here is his warning:

While we hear school leaders promote the attributes of their public school systems, we don’t hear them talk very much about their community’s commonly held purpose for their schools and children.  We seldom, if ever, see school leaders trying to help their communities forge that common purpose.  As a result, the legitimacy of our schools as an institution representative of our communities is vanishing, and our schools are on track to becoming little more than a service that has no voice.

The following fictional story written by an 83-year-old Nobel Prize winning author from Portugal speaks to this loss of legitimacy.

On a rainy election day, practically no one went to the polls until 4 in the afternoon, and then everybody seemed to arrive at once.  When the ballots were counted, almost three-quarters turned… Continue reading

A Great Question

When I was sharing with one of my Green Valley, Arizona, friends the fact that I had recently completed writing a new book about our nation’s public schools, he politely but bluntly asked me a great question:  “Since my kids are no longer in school, why should I be interested in reading it?”  I thought about his question for a few seconds and then responded.  I said that America’s Schools at a Turning Point:  And how we THE PEOPLE can help shape their future is not just about our public schools.  It is also about our country.  It is about hope and trust and how the American people will put their differences aside and come together and make a difference when they are told the truth.

How the Common Core Went Wrong

In rolling out this website and announcing my new book, I’m beginning to hear from a growing number of my non-educator friends.  The hot topic for many of them is their concern and, in many instances, opposition to the Common Core Standards.  This, of course, tracks with national polling and what is happening in many states where legislation has been introduced to repeal these standards.  For example, in its most recent annual poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools conducted by Phi Delta Kappan and Gallup, six out of ten Americans indicated they oppose the Common Core State Standards.  This, in turn, fuels the anti-Common Core legislation.  Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, explains how the Common Core went wrong and how advocates can get it back on track.  It is a bit lengthy but thought-provoking and worth reading.

A Must-see Educational Documentary

“Shock and awe” is the overwhelming response from the citizens who have viewed a powerful, new educational documentary titled, Rise Above the Mark.  The documentary was created by Rocky Killion, superintendent of the West Lafayette School Corporation in West Lafayette, Indiana, to alert the general public about what he calls the “corporate takeover” of our nation’s public schools.  Since its premier less than a year ago, more than 10,000 people have seen Rise Above the Mark throughout the United States and in several countries, including Belgium, Finland and The Netherlands.  Rocky reports that after viewing it many people acknowledge they haven’t been aware of what has been happening to our public schools and ask:  What can we help do about it?  Narrated by Peter Coyote and featuring Diane Ravitch, Jamie Vollmer and other nationally recognized educational leaders, this documentary is a must-see for anyone who wants to know or let others know how our nation’s education reform movement is impacting our school children.  Rise Above the Mark DVDs are available on

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