What’s going on? Put simply, America isn’t educating enough of our people well enough to get American-based companies to do more of their high-value added work here.
Our K-12 school system isn’t nearly up to what it should be. American students continue to do poorly in math and science relative to students in other advanced countries. Japan, Germany, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, and France all top us.
American universities continue to rank high but many are being starved of government funds and are having trouble keeping up. More and more young Americans and their families can’t afford a college education. China, by contrast, is investing like mad in world-class universities and research centers.
Here’s the nut:
The core problem isn’t outsourcing. It’s that the prosperity of America’s big businesses – which are really global networks that happen to be headquartered here – has become disconnected from the well-being of most Americans.
via Outsourcing isn’t the problem – Salon.com.
…the central flaw in the need for structure and hierarchy is that politics prefers leadership characteristics above expertise. No politician can possibly have the expertise and experience needed in all the many areas a leader must address (notably in roles such as governor and president). But during the “accountability era” in education of the past three decades, the direct role of governors and presidents as related to education has increased dramatically–often with education as a central plank in their campaigns.
One distinct flaw in that development has been a trickle-down effect reaching from presidents and governors to state superintendents of education and school board chairs and members: people who have no or very little experience or expertise as educators or scholars attain leadership positions responsible for forming and implementing education policy.
The faces and voices currently leading the education reform movement in the U.S. are appointees and self-proclaimed reformers who, while often well-meaning, lack significant expertise or experience in education: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, billionaire Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee (whose entrance to education includes the alternative route of Teach for America and only a few years in the classroom), and Sal Khan, for example.
Design and operation of specific programs must be in the hands of local experts: Continue reading
I believe there needs to be a paradigm shift in education before we can create schools based on how children actually learn and that address 21st-century realities. The shift I am proposing centers on a problem-based curriculum in which the goal is to develop the ability to articulate important questions about issues of concern and to learn how to find solutions. “Let the questions be the curriculum,” Socrates once advocated. He “taught” by asking questions to which he did not know the answers, and he said he owed his wisdom to his willingness to let his questions guide him. Here I think it is illuminating to note the relationship between the words “quest” and “question.” For Socrates, it is the quest for knowledge that is important. A good question is a quest and can be the beginning of important journeys into the unknown.
A problem-based approach to learning is as natural as breathing. It could dramatically change how schools are structured and how teachers teach, and ultimately enable students to develop the abilities that really “count.” Problem-based learning is built on the assumption that the most effective learning takes place when students are using their knowledge to solve real life problems that concern them. It encourages them to work either individually or collaboratively on problems that are relevant to their lives in order to create and propose solutions as opposed to the traditional approach of reproducing information. Through analysis, strategizing, and the gathering of data and information, student learning is deepened because it is being used to solve real problems. Imagine students exploring the causes for global warming and proposing solutions or analyzing our current food distribution system that has a billion people hungry and suggesting how these problems can be remedied.
via Humane Connection: Educator Arnold Greenberg: Counting What Can’t Be Counted.
While there certainly are some charter schools out there doing good work, the majority are poorly serving the students they have been entrusted to teach while costing the taxpayers tons of extra cash. For-profit schools run by companies like White Hat and K12 take it a step further. Not only are many of these schools under performing, but all of them take much needed money away from public schools and out of the pockets of taxpayers and turn it into profit for the management company at the expense of their students.
via Ohio’s for-profit charter schools make great businesses, crappy educators.
In Salon, testing scandals are rife:
Although the national media appear determined not to notice, similar testing scandals have taken place in New York, Texas, Georgia, California — basically anywhere school funding and/or jobs have been linked directly to multiple-choice testing. Private charter schools as well as public schools, incidentally.
“This is like an education Ponzi scam,” a teacher’s union official told USA Today. “If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That’s incredibly dangerous.”
We aren’t going to make it to a new world by sending our kids to schools that constantly fail them. Where’s the alternative schooling going to come from?
Michelle Rhee has been advocating education reform based on rewarding teachers whose students score well on standardized tests and firing the others. It now appears that her apparent success in D.C. schools masks possible test fraud on her watch. Writing in the Daily Beast, Diane Ravitch reports results of an investigation into tests at “the Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus, which saw spectacular score gains during Rhee’s tenure. Rhee held up the school as a model because the percentage of students who reached proficient on D.C. tests soared from 10 percent to 58 percent in a two-year period.” An analysis of patterns of erasures on answer sheets
found a dramatic pattern of changing answers from wrong to right at Noyes. In one seventh grade classroom, students averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures on the reading test, as compared to a district-wide average of less than 1. When parents complained that their children’s high scores didn’t make sense, since they were still struggling to do basic math, they were ignored.
Looks like the program motivated someone to game the system, not teach the students. Game-the-system, isn’t that WallStreetspeak for “business as usual”?