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Get rid of the education bureaucracy and kids’ hearts will sing

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing. – Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Steve Jobs made highly technical machines user-friendly and beautiful by blending mathematics, science, and art. More importantly, he started a wave of innovation that made products that were once only accessible to scientists and engineers readily available to the general public.

During this period of innovation, the education sector was stuck in a time warp. Most primary and secondary students today are educated in about the same way that they were in the 1980s.

Counselors continue to place students into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), humanities, and trade tracks rather than encourage a broad education. Teaching credentials are still more important than an amazing understanding of the subject and schools are still accredited by personnel from other schools rather than by the market. Also, the majority of U.S. students attend schools run by the government.

Regulations and peer review accreditations may have been necessary in the middle of the 20th Century. However, the same regulations and accrediting bodies that protected our kids then are forcing schools to operate in ways that are inconsistent with 21st Century realities. In short, this means kids are wasting years of their lives on things that no longer matter.

For education to keep pace with the times, there must be a complete paradigm shift. Instead of regulating and delaying change, we need to encourage the education sector to innovate.

To make sure new ideas make it into the education system we need to encourage more private schooling options. Then we need to urge these schools to try radical concepts and provide concrete information on what students are learning. Finally, we need to make sure all students have access to these innovative schools.

The easiest way to make all this happen is to issue education vouchers that can be used at any school and require schools to publish third party test results each year.

With this type of competition, all schools should become better. When the schools become better, our kids will be better prepared. When our kids are better prepared, the country will be more vibrant. When the country is more vibrant, the economy will be better. When the economy is stronger, everyone will be better off.

It is time to get rid of the bureaucracy and allow our schools to innovate so our kids’ hearts can sing.


What Happens When School Is Too Easy?

Excel in Ed – Jacqueline Pace Swigler

“What happens when high school standards aren’t quite high enough…Right now, it seems there are too many kids walking out of school—just like I did—with a high school diploma but unprepared for the challenges and opportunities they will face. And this crushing reality can have serious consequences for students. For many students, the immediate consequence is remediation…For other students, the consequence is joblessness…There has been a disconnect between school and the real world, resulting in serious negative consequences for young adults. Too many states have had low expectations for K-12 student learning, misleading parents and teachers into believing kids are performing better than they actually are…What does all this mean for the children in your state? How can you know if your state is preparing students to graduate ready for real-world challenges?”(more)

Common Core Math in the K-8 Classroom: Results from a National Teacher Survey

Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Jennifer Bay-Williams, Ann Duffett, David Griffith

“In Common Core Math in the K-8 Classroom: Results from a National Teacher Survey, Jennifer Bay Williams, Ann Duffett, and David Griffith take a close look at how educators are implementing the Common Core math standards in classrooms across the nation. A nationally representative survey of over one thousand teachers reveals that they are increasingly familiar with the Common Core and believe that it will benefit students. Yet our findings also point to several areas that warrant mid-course corrections if we’re going to fulfill the standards’ more rigorous expectations…Now is not the time to grow weary, but to roll up our sleeves and help teachers succeed.”(more)

In elementary education, ‘doing science’ rather than just memorizing it

PBS NewsHour – John Tulenko

“The battle over Common Core education standards is playing out across the country, but a new set of requirements for teaching science is creeping into curricula without the same fanfare. Some states are voluntarily adopting the practices, which emphasize more consistent science instruction as well as hands-on experimentation…”(more)

Time to begin implementing new science standards in our schools

EdSource – Michael Kirst and Trish Williams

“A strong science education is an important part of learning for students at all grade levels. California’s new science standards emphasize science in early grades and ensure students use what they learn in connection with other core subjects. The new standards help students solve problems, think creatively and make sense of a rapidly changing world…California has set the foundation for a greater focus on instructional quality and ensuring that students graduate ready for the world that awaits them. Some of California’s and the nation’s fastest growing occupations are in science, technology, engineering and math. California’s economic growth now far outpaces that of the nation, with a sizeable portion of new jobs in the state’s tech industry.”(more)

Americans Are Spending at Least $1.5 Billion in College Remediation Courses, and the Middle Class Pays the Most

Education Post – Staff Writer

“More than half a million college freshmen—approximately one in four students who enter college the fall after high school graduation—had to enroll in remedial coursework during their first year of college, costing their families nearly $1.5 billion annually. Forty-five percent of those students came from middle and upper income families, according to Out of Pocket: The High Cost of Inadequate High Schools and High School Student Achievement on College Affordability, a new research report from Education Reform Now and Education Post…Peter Cunningham, executive director of Education Post, which commissioned the study, said, “High schools are not rigorous enough. Higher standards have raised the bar but we need to hold schools accountable for meeting those standards.””(more)