3/15/2005

I must have touched a nerve...

...because I have had more people approach me on the school/education/teacher issue than any other. This issue obviously interests many, but I think the edu-bureaucracy would be fooling themselves to ignore at least a significant minority who believe our system is heading the wrong direction.

A very common theme I have heard is a...not fear, per se, but an unwillingness to speak out on the issue. One woman told me she didn't want to rock the boat because her "kids are still in school." One fella said that he "still has to do business in this town." I mention these thoughts not to suggest that anyone involved in education would do anything improper, but merely to point out that the organization of those in the system probably operates to limit, if not stifle, a portion of what might otherwise be open debate on the topic.

Another gentleman raised a very interesting analogy. He said that public education right now is a bit like "Detroit at the beginning of the invasion of the Japanese imports." He said those involved in the system don't even see "it" coming. "It," I suppose, is what this man believes will be the inevitable revolution against the status quo in the education system. I should note that he is in good company; even Bill Gates says our high school system is obsolete.

The bottom line, I think, is that very few people are happy with the present system. The teachers no doubt feel they are underpaid and under siege. I am sure the administrators grow weary of approaching the governing boards, year after year, hats in hand, looking for more money. The consumers of the system are not happy because they see the rest of the world passing our students by. What's the answer?

More money?

Raises for teachers and health insurance for their spouses?

How about accountability? Not just accountability in students' test scores such as required by No Child Left Behind, but also accountability in reform. In other words, how about giving the establishment whatever it wants for 5 years. If they can meet high benchmark goals, fine. If not, throw the doors open. Charter Schools, vouchers, home schooling, you name it.

Some will argue those in control of the system have already had enough time and the time for change is now. I don't know if that's true, but there have to be more solutions than "more money."

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right wing loser.

Anonymous said...

Right wing realist winner.

Anonymous said...

Bean's plan looks like a plan that's to smart for the system.

GeeGuy said...

Too smart for the system? How so?

SallyT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SallyT said...

"In other words, how about giving the establishment whatever it wants for 5 years. If they can meet high benchmark goals, fine. If not, throw the doors open."

Good point, but I think the educrats have been given everything they wanted for about 20 years...and the test scores drop steadily. The problem is that, when 'high benchmark goals' aren't met, the establishment resists mightily, then eventually redefines the goals (ie. SAT scoring revisions). This is what we see concerning the No Child Left Behind requirements.

For example, all the rhetoric about test results being inadequate indicators of learning is smoke to distract the taxpayers from the failures of the system. And what really annoys me is the argument that "critical thinking" is far more important than mere facts--takes some mighty tortured logic to explain how one can think critically about anything without an understanding of facts, history, processes.

As we've seen in the MT debate over a definition of "quality education," the educrats believe a quality education is about input (new schools and equipment, high salaries, health insurance), while the taxpayer believes it's about output (test scores, preparedness for work and further education, basic understanding of how the world works). And educrats will never have enough--the purpose of bureaucracy is to perpetuate bureaucracy; to forever overspend so expanded funding is assured for the next fiscal year.

It's time to say no, offer choices to parents (vouchers, charter schools), and stop risking our children's (& country's) future to mollify folks who simply can't be satisfied. They've had more than 30 years to get it right, and complete insulation (public school monopoly) from the hard evidence that they aren't getting it right.

Last years' local school budget was over $54 million dollars, but no one, least of all our media, seems a bit interested in how that money was actually spent. Instead, we just get the endless sad stories about underfunding and low pay. Thirty years of "crisis" means it's time to do something different.

Anonymous said...

I think Bean's plan makes a lot of sense. When you look at how to run a home or a small business there are certain expenses that must be considered.

My home is not based on "how many" in the household, but on how many "rooms" I have to heat and maintain.

I don't give the government much credit when it comes to "logic" so I think that is how we have arrived at basing our spending on "per student" instead of the more logical approach taken by Bean.