Former Florida educator speaks about the need for education choice, customization for all students

Blautism Education, a nonprofit organization based in Tallahassee, Florida, designed to address the resources, challenges, advocacy, literacy and education of children on the autism spectrum, recently welcomed Step Up For Students assistant director for external affairs Keith Jacobs to its speaker series.

Jacobs, who spent 14 years as an educator in both traditional public schools and public charter schools, talked about his experience as father to two sons, one on the autism spectrum and one gifted, and the challenges all parents face in finding the best educational environments for their children.

Here is an excerpt of Jacobs’ talk.

My underlying philosophy for education is that every child has unique needs that education has to adapt to fill. Whether it be their social-economic background, their religious background, whether it’s race or ethnicity, the education environment is supposed to be safe, an environment of respect and rapport where their individual needs can be met and they can flourish.

What we’ve seen over the last couple of centuries in education is that for the longest time they did a one-size-fits-all. They believed that if we have this standard curriculum, all students need to learn it, we’ll test all of them the same. The ones who are showing proficiency, we’ll move them on. The ones who are struggling, we’ll remediate.

What was not taken into account was that although students start in kindergarten, their experiences leading up to that point are drastically different. Your family in the rural communities in Florida don’t experience the same things that they do in suburban areas of Florida. So, although age-wise they’re starting at 5 years old, there is a different level of prerequisite knowledge when they start. What happens is because they’re starting on uneven footing, as the years progress, those who started a little bit behind fall father and farther behind.

You can listen to the full talk here.

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