It doesn't stop, does it. Here is yet another report about how to fix public education in the United States, this one concocted by the "New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce". The NCSAW declares that "unless US schools are improved radically, the country's standard of living will plunge over the next 20 years."
Guess what folks! In my opinion, the standard of living in the US, at least for the hoards of us not in the higher socio-economic levels, has already plunged, at least from my perspective. I know that even with frugal, conscience, vigilant care, I can spend less money for things I want than I used to. My teaching salary has not kept up with inflation or the ever rising cost of basic living necessities (groceries, gasoline, utilities, etc.). But that is not what I want to write about here.
This NCSAW cites studies that many other countries are offering the world's employers highly skilled work forces at a lower price than American labor. They particularly cite the Indians and Chinese.
OK, here we have two new entries into the "Countries-who-are-educating-their- youth-better-than-the-US" game, the Chinese and Indians. I could cite the fact that these countries, like the Germans, Japanese, Koreans, et. al., that educate their youth better than the US, do not teach the wide culturally different group of students that we teach. But, IMO, more importantly, these other countries link educational opportunites for advancement to test scores and student achievement, as opposed to the social promotion, political correctness and entitlement that pollutes the US public school system. Oh, and AFAIK, the US DOES lead the world by a wide margin in the amount of money spent on educational bureaucracy. ( So I guess that saying the US lags behind many other countries in education is not true ????? )
Lets look at China and India. Both have huge populations. AFAIK, people in these countries lack the sense of entitlement found in too many people in the US. These people know that a life of manual labor in their medieval agricultural systems or long hours in a factory for little pay and living in a crowded, filthy hovel are among the choices for the uneducated. Therefore, when presented with the opportunity, many families in China and India jump at the chance for their children to attend school. Motivation and purpose; a better education means a better life. Period.
IMO, such motivations are lacking for too many US students. Too many of their families say they support their children's schools and teachers, but the reality is the parents and their children are not taking advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. They believe the promise of a life of manual labor does not await their children. Far too many US children believe they are entitled to finish high school or college then step into a high paying job that will finance the cars, homes, electronics toys / collections, vacations, etc., that they believe they are entitled. The promise and reality of working in the agricultural fields, the slaughterhouses, cleaning homes, offices, motel rooms, washing dishes at a restaurant or hospital, working in construction or the other manual labor jobs usually worked by those from the lower socio-economic level people of our society are not for them. Oh, a few US students come to believe they don't need an education because these are the types of jobs awaiting them anyway, because that is what their parents do. Others may think that because Dad or Mummy are lawyers, doctors, engineers, MBA's, CPA's, etc., that they will automatically be getting a high paying, socially prestigious job someday regardless of how they perform in school. Many immigrants come to the US, legally or illegally, because the US is a land of opportunity, opportunity that sadly and tragically, too many people here take for granted and whom have lost the drive, the gumption, the necessary work ethnic that once made the US THE world leader in just about everything.
The thinkers of the NCSAW believe that one change needed in US public education is to end high school prior to grades 11-12 for most students and use the money from these grades to pay the other teachers a higher salary and fund pre-schools for 4-year olds and low income 3-year olds. The 9-10th graders who couldn't pass a state-run exam based on national standards and world class skills, would be kept in high school until they did pass this "yet-to-be-created" exam. After students pass the test, they'd move on to community college or job training, or, for those on the "college track", take AP or IB coursework to prepare them for university. While I have not read the report, the article I read did not cite a sourse of funding for the community colleges or job training.
The NCSAW also suggest schools be taken over by states for the supervision and funding of schools, reducing the management function of school boards. They also advocated the creation of teacher-organized "contract schools" that would operate independently and be judged by meeing state standards ( ie: passing the test
IMO. the bottom line is if you want "radical changes in schools", you will need radical changes in the attitudes and expectations of parents and their children. I think some of the suggestions by the NCSAW are valid, but then again, what will they look like after the bloated, self-serving educational bureaucracy get their hands on them ?
Thanks for reading my blog ! I welcome your comments.