Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fixing Education in America

Efforts to improve education in the United States are, if well-intentioned, sadly wrong-headed. Our national education agenda focuses far too narrowly on raising test scores. (I think our policy makers are not really well-intentioned, but instead are trying to take down public schools, and replace them with for-profit private schools, the best schools for the wealthiest Americans, but that's another topic.)

The problem with our narrow focus raising test scores is this: At best we will end up with schools that produce good test takers. At worst, we condemn schools to failure, even if some of the "failing" schools are actually succeeding in other ways—say in industrial arts.

Do we really want schools that strongly emphasize proficiency in completing fill-in-the-bubble tests?

No, I think not. I think most Americans wish for something much, much greater.

We must open our minds and we must especially open our hearts to see that our schools could be teaching our children to think carefully and thoroughly, to care about themselves, to care about each other, and to care about our precious earth.

Our nation's schools could encourage our children to create, to wonder, to imagine, to hope. None of these can be meaningfully measured by fill-in-the-bubble machine-scored tests.

To achieve our loftier goals we'd have to have the gumption to fund education as we do our military and prison systems. We'd have to wake up and realize that we need to tax the wealthiest Americans more.

It's just not true that "America is broke." The richest Americans are richer than they've ever been in history. The richest 1% of Americans could pay higher taxes without suffering. They are so wealthy that if they were taxed, we could invest in our schools, our health care system and our budgets would balance.

My blog pal, Paul posted this about how Finland approaches education. They have the best schools (even as measured by tests) but they focus on good teaching, not on high test scores. Paul's Quote Reflections post.

Paul's blog post refers to this article in Time magazine here: Time Magazine

No comments: