What Jon Stewart Misunderstands About Education?

I love Jon Stewart.

I was fortunate enough to see him perform stand-up at the Rascals Comedy Club in West Orange, New Jersey. This is well before the Daily Show and hosting the Oscars and his superstardom.

I have a lot of respect for Jon Stewart. He is a celebrity spokesperson for Alzheimer’s research and also dedicated thousands of man hours to help fight for 9/11 first responders on Capitol Hill.

But Jon Stewart is wrong about education.

Why Jon Stewart Misunderstands Education?

In case you didn’t know, but Jon Stewart is back. He hosts a show on AppleTV, called “The Problem with Jon Stewart” and he discusses important and pressing topics in our society. He invites guests on that are “experts” in their field and they discuss the issues.

I watched the episode about education and I was shocked. First, the people he invited on were not “experts.” You might want to read my other article on becoming an expert to fully grasp what I am saying.

If Jon Stewart wants to produce a broadcast that is entertaining on the topic of education, then I have zero criticism. Like I said earlier, I love Jon Stewart.

But I feel like Jon wants to use this new show as a platform to promote new ideas and to help change America. I believe he wants to help make things better for people. And if that’s the point — then he did himself a real disservice by not inviting a real expert to talk to him.

So that’s why Jon Stewart misunderstands education, because he isn’t talking to people who know what is going on or how to solve the problems.

What Jon Stewart Needs to Know

I spent 20 years in the K12 system, in addition to conducting 20 years of reseaerch. If you read the previous article, that does not make me an expert. I am a true expert because I can solve any problem in a school district or a classroom.

What Jon Stewart needs to know is that education causes poverty — not the other way around.

Therefore, if he wants to help people move out of poverty and become economically mobile than they need to receive a better quality of education. And the reality is that does not come from a college degree.

What Jon Stewart needs to know is that we already have research in the field of education to solve these societal issues.

One of the biggest obstacles to fixing the educational system is that celebrities like Jon Stewart NEVER talk to experts like me — so the bubble they live in never pops. Jon Stewart said on the broadcast that you can’t blame teachers if students come to school unprepared for school and dealing with trauma from conditions in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.

All I can say to Jon is — do you have any research or experience that proves that to be accurate? Because it’s simply untrue. I have 20 years of experience, 20 years of research and I am an expert. And what I can tell you is that kids that grow up in poorer neighborhoods and from marginalized communities happen to be twice as resilient than kids who grow up wealthy suburban districts.

Kids from inner cities are not “snowflakes.”

If you aren’t following my account, then you missed this story about a student who came to me in the 4th grade reading on a Kindergarten level. What did the system do wrong? And what did me and my staff do right? You can read that story next:

What Jon Stewart needs to know is that he believes what he is told. And for years the one narrative about schools, about marginalized communities and the system is broken because of lack of funding and external school factors.

Jon, bubbe, you need to stop listening to the “whispers” in your ear from people who are not experts in education.

Talk to an Expert

My biggest obstacle and frustration has more to do with people being “Sheep” than anything else. And if you think you aren’t a “sheep” then you should take this short quiz.

Question #1

Do you seek out information or read articles “NOT” recommended to you?

Question #2

Do you wait to agree or disagree with any information until a “trusted” source tells you what to think?

If you answered “NO” to the first question and “YES” to the second question — then you are a “SHEEP.”

America can’t solve any societal problems because people don’t make up their own minds anymore about things they see, hear or read. If it doesn’t make any sense to you — that’s not becuase you are stupid. It doesn’t make sense — because it doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know how the general public got convinced that things that make zero sense are too complicated for them to understand.

Understanding how to build a better school system is a very complex process, but it’s not complicated to explain. It’s actually quite simple to explain.

3-Part Rebuilding System

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean. Schools in America suck. We all know that. The student outcomes aren’t what we want and hundreds of millions of people are earning far less than they need. We simply have a poor educational system.

So how do you fix it?

Phase One : The Curriculum

I have written extensively about this topic, so if you want more detail, please search through my articles. Simply put, the curriculum we use right now is a 19th century curriculum. Any curriculum design expert would agree with that statement.

What we need is a 21st century curriculum design and content. Again, every expert would agree with the first part, but the second part is where even curriculum experts don’t know what to do.

Here’s the answer. The 21st century curriculum content needs to be the 21st century skills that I have outlined from the Georgetown study released in 2020. First problem solved!

Phase Two : The Teachers

The reason the general public has so much disdain and disrespect for teachers is because for the last 100 years, the profession of teaching never evolved into a real profession.

Many experts agree on this point. Part of the problem is the Union leaders are less professional than the teachers themselves. You have the blind leading the blind.

If we want the best educational system in the world, we need to develop our teachers into true professional teachers. I have said this before, but teachers are like professional athletes. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James both went straight from high school to the NBA and they both were NOT very good in their rookie years. Why?

It’s simple to undestand. They had all the raw talent in the world, but they were not prepared to be professional athletes in the NBA.

The same is true for teachers. When a teacher graduates from college they have all the raw talent in the world. They are qualified to teach, but they are not ready to handle the professional ranks of teaching. We abuse raw talent in America — and we should be ashamed of ourselves.

I developed a novice teacher development program over a decade ago and in that two-year program every teacher went from raw talent to highly proficient. In fact, the teacher development program was so successful and so highly regarded that I had a waiting list of teachers who wanted to work in my program and principals and superintendents in local public and charter schools would try and recruit my staff away from me. Second problem, solved!

Phase Three : School Leadership

A school cannot run without a principal. I know teachers like to think they could be left alone to do their job, but that is the furthest thing from reality. Schools need leadership.

The problem is that our current K12 system does not develop school leaders. The new system needs to help identify people who want to become principals and help develop their schools. Right now, principals are people who don’t like teaching anymore.

That’s why I became a principal and a superintendent. I started my career in the classroom and quickly realized that I could not handle the stress of being a teacher in a system that didn’t respect me or my time. My personality was not well-suited to be a teacher.

But when I took over my first school, I quickly realized that I had no idea what was going on around me. There were a thousand mandates and none of them fit together. In fact, some of the legal mandates contradicted each other, which means as an administrator you are constantly balancing the “spirit” of the law with what it actually says.

If we want a system that is the best in the world, we need to make Principals the Head Coaches of the school. Their main job needs to be to coach the teachers. That was why I created the teacher development program. I spent hundreds of hours researching teacher best practices and then I spent thousand of hours observing classrooms to check if that research made sense or not.

I put in the work and effort to provide my staff with the best quality professional coaching in the world. And hundreds of school districts around me agreed — my staff was so well coached they could teach any student.

Just for comparison sake, in New Jersey, the most professional development a school district provided an individual teacher was 25 hours. In my program, teachers received 70+ hours of professional coaching — not workshops.

The teacher development program was a 2-year program, so by the time a teacher was finished they had recieved over 140 hours of high-level expert profesional coaching. It would take a teacher in a public or charter school more than five years to receive the same number of hours and the quality was much lower.

When you have highly professional teachers — a principal can do a lot of great things in a school. You are only as good as your team. And right now, the system REFUSES to properly coach teachers and then they hamstring principals with no idea what to do. Third problem, solved!

Any Questions?

I know that some of what I have outlined may have gone over your heads. It’s not becuase you are dumb. Please stop thinking that about yourself. I am a true expert in the field of education. I have 20 years of experience and research. If I came to your work, I promise there are probably half a dozen things you do that go straight over my head.

We need to start respecting experts for what they know and what they can do. I am here to help fix our educational system. We need to rebuild it. What we have is atrocious. Not just for students, but for teachers and school leaders as well.

Everyone related to schools right now is getting the short end of the stick.

The only way to begin solving this problem is I need ordinary citizens like you to share articles like this BEFORE you get “approval” from a trusted source or wait for someone else to tell you its ok.

If you think what I have outlined is a good idea — then it is a GOOD IDEA!

You don’t need a corporate master to give me a seal of approval.

You are smarter than the media. You are smarter than the people we sent to Washington. Therefore you don’t need to wait for them to tell you what to do.

But unless you share these articles — I am stuck. Will you help me, help you?

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Professor Schwartz

Professor Schwartz

Former Superintendent | Ed Consultant | Speaker/Author — Go to my homepage at https://leafacademy.org