Agitate, Educate, and Organize ~OO~
American Schools are failing and getting worse. This is because professional educators no longer run our schools, select the curriculum or determine classroom methods.
We have many well-trained educational professionals in our schools. But too many newer teachers are products of failed teaching colleges. If we put professional educators back in charge we might be able to fix our schools, but this does not look like it will happen anytime soon. Too many teachers are not teaching the basics because they are teaching to tests or teaching what administrators may arbitrarily choose.
“College faculty complain that entering freshmen are poorly prepared in:
“Added together, the years of K–12 classroom teaching experience
of the last three NYC schools chancellors — Dennis Walcott, Cathy Black and Joel Klein — was nearly zero.”
The people who run hospitals are not doctors or medical professionals.
And the people who run schools are not professional educators or teachers.
“Thomas Mann was the first secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education established in 1837, and for the next twelve years he conducted an energetic campaign for a school system paid for by government and controlled by professional educators. … Despite vast difficulties and vigorous opposition…the main outlines of [the kind of system urged by Mann] were achieved by the middle of the 19th century….
This foundation was based on logic and rhetoric.
But the United States was not unique in moving from a mostly private to a mostly governmental system of schools. “One authority has described ‘the gradual acceptance of the view that education ought to be a responsibility of the state’ as the “most significant” of the general trends of the nineteenth century “that were still influencing education in all western countries in the second half of the 20th century.”8 Interestingly enough, this trend began in Prussia in 1808, and in France, under Napoleon, about the same time. Britain was even later than the United States.
In worldwide rankings more than half of the top 100 universities, and eight of the top ten, are American. The scientific output of American institutions is unparalleled. And thanks to the efforts of Mann and Dewey, American schools became more effective than their British counterparts and exceeded the quality of schools in myriad nations even before the World Wars.
But today, instead of starving our schools of critical funding and pushing market-based, test-driven policies that ultimately fail our kids, we should be relying on evidence and input from those closest to the classroom to find solutions that work to reclaim the promise of public education. Those closest to the classrooms are teachers. One of the most effective measures we can take is to put teachers back in charge.
“While America’s students are stuck in a ditch, the rest of the world is moving ahead. The World Economic Forum ranks us 48th in math and science education. On international math tests, the United States is near the bottom of industrialized countries (the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), and we’re in the middle in science and reading. Similarly, although we used to have one of the top percentages of high-school and college graduates among the OECD countries, we’re now in the basement for high-school and the middle for college graduates. And these figures don’t take into account the leaps in educational attainment in China, Singapore, and many developing countries.”
“Time is running out. Without political leadership willing to take risks and build support for “radical reform,” and without a citizenry willing to insist on those reforms, our schools will continue to decline. And just as it was with Detroit, the global marketplace will be very unforgiving to a populace that doesn’t have the skills it demands. McKinsey estimates that the benefits of bringing our educational levels up to those of the highest-performing countries would have raised our gross domestic product by about $2 trillion in 2008. By the same token, every year we fail to close that gap is like living with the equivalent of a permanent national recession. Shocking as that may sound, the costs in human terms, to our nation and to the kind of people we aspire to become, will be even greater.”
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