Andrew Wilk

Andrew Wilk

Andrew teaches both English and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, and during the 2014-15 academic year he was nominated for the Teaching Excellence Award at the college in recognition of his work in the classroom. In addition to teaching at both the secondary and college level, he worked for many years in the private sector, holding professional and administrative positions in advertising, journalism and healthcare. Andrew has published over 100 commentaries on topics ranging from politics to education, and he has also published a novel, “A Day at the Fair with Chili Boy.” He writes on his blog, Common Sense. He is the dad of two grown children, who attended public schools in Urbana.

This summer, ask your bored child: Was last school year too easy or too hard?

Summer vacation is now in full swing, but the new school year will soon be upon us, and the hard work of our students, teachers, and parents will begin anew.  Parents, of course, hope what is being offered in the classrooms will seem quite the exciting adventure for their children. However, if after only a few days or few weeks… Read more →

Will Illinois’ new school discipline law make schools safer?

Perhaps it is to be expected in our politically polarized country, but opinions about the state of discipline in our public schools fall into two fundamentally irreconcilable camps: There is far too much—or far too little. Consequently, we live in a nation where lawsuits and federal or state enforcement actions are simultaneously either demanding schools provide a safe learning environment… Read more →

Can teachers drive conversation about school reform if they don’t believe change is needed?

When I published a commentary in my local newspaper a few years ago entitled “Why Do Our Public Schools Never Improve?” the comments posted by readers suggested that questioning the performance of our nation’s schools means one thing: I must be a right-wing ideologue in thrall to our corporate overlords. I certainly understood the negative reactions. Questioning the comfortable status quo never… Read more →

Why our students can’t think on their feet: Are our schools are too timid?

I’ve lately been wondering about a problem I’ve noticed with some of the students that I have taught over the years: an inability to think through an issue. This seems particularly evident in the sections of writing assignments where they have to either evaluate contrasting viewpoints or cogently explain their point of view on an issue or topic. The agape… Read more →

How do we get past the fatigue, frustration, and fear of our national ed reforms?

We need a new paradigm if we are to transform our public schools. The 19th century factory model of education has certainly run its course, and continuing to scaffold new programs and promises onto a “seat time centered” public school structure is a losing proposition because it fundamentally fails to meet student educational needs. The key to real improvement is,… Read more →

‘Counterfeit’ Diplomas: We’re Killing Our Kids With Kindness

I recently had my developmental (remedial) English students complete an essay assignment that required them to read and respond to an editorial in The New York Times entitled “The Counterfeit High School Diploma,” which focused on the unsurprising relationship between rising graduation rates and sinking academic achievement in our nation’s public schools. Because many of my students are recent high… Read more →

Remedial Students Need the Best Teachers to Make Up Lost Ground

Problems with academic rigor in our nation’s public schools are well documented, and too often students enter college seriously unprepared for post-secondary coursework. In a misguided effort to foster self-esteem, our nation’s public schools have instead produced an epidemic of self-delusion that is leaving our colleges with the unenviable task of trying to help millions of students catch up on… Read more →

Real Estate Values: Why We Don’t Talk About Middle-Class School Reform

We have now spent many decades and uncounted hundreds of billions of dollars trying to attain a single goal: improving our often deficient public schools. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of some and the tax dollars of many, we seem to be even further from our goal than ever—and there are many theories regarding why this is so. Some claim… Read more →

The rage of ‘white suburban moms’

Originally published 3/9/2014 in the News-Gazette In a speech last November that addressed the complaints pouring in regarding the Common Core Standards now being rolled out in our nation’s public schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the point that “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — (discover) their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought… Read more →

Does a Diploma Really = An Education?

 The New York Times recently decided it was time to admit the blindingly obvious. An article entitled “As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short” discusses the unmistakable link between declining academic standards and rising high school graduation rates. The article points out that more young men and women are graduating from high school thanks to the lazy… Read more →

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