Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The biggest problem with Education

I’m asked often about what I would do to “fix” the Education system.  In fact, today I was asked that question and the ensuing conversation almost always starts to stray.

Person:  So what would you do to fix our broken education system?

Me:  There’s not a whole lot I can do.  The first thing that needs to happen is society has got to actually value education.

Person:  We do.  How about the unions?  Wouldn’t you break up the unions?

Me:  The unions aren’t the primary problem.  When society actually treats education as a priority, then it starts paying greater dividends.

Person:  Sure.  But don’t you think we don’t need to spend so much money on education?

Me:  I can get coffee in a Starbucks drive-through six times before my computer from 1999 boots up.

Person:  But this tenure thing kills education right?

Me:  Tenured teachers can still be fired.

Person:  But it’s a pain. Actually, wouldn’t it be better if everyone was just homeschooled?

Me:  My point is made.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people don’t like to be held accountable for their own actions and value judgments.  But examples abound of societies lack of prioritizing learning; from the regular humping of Khan Academy to the continued degradation of school facilities. 

Credit recovery is a perfect example of not really valuing what kids learning.  Basically credit recovery is like it has always been, only districts really love it because it can help with bringing in funding.  Remember the original idea of summer school?  The making-up-credits thing?  Yeah, that’s expanded to things like Cyber High.  Now you can fail a semester and then make up the credits in a few weeks using a totally online format that teaches you absolutely nothing.  Oh, unless you live in Los Angeles, where you apparently can make up a semester’s worth of credits in just three days by transferring to a different school.

Oh, and I’m really hoping that Georgetown didn’t just enroll an incoming Senior from St. Ignatius in San Francisco.  Yes, that means that he hasn’t got his diploma yet.  But somehow it looks like a rising basketball star has managed to gain access into an “elite” academic institution; one that many of my students might give their right leg for the honor.  Come on Georgetown.  Seriously? 

So actually value education and you will see results.  If you decide not to you can break as many unions as you want while putting forth constant streams of standardized tests, and nothing will change.     

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