Education: A Golden Age

“The education sector’s structure and policies will change more in the next 3 years than they changed in the last 2,500 years”

Obama no Bloomberg yet in the area of education: still too much “all things to all people”

125px-flag_of_the_united_statessvg.png 160px-obamabarack.jpg

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080616/NEWS06/80616041/1118/RSS

This agenda starts with education. Whether you’re conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, practically every economist agrees that in this digital age, a highly-educated and skilled workforce will be the key not only to individual opportunity, but to the overall success of our economy as well. We cannot be satisfied until every child in America – and I mean every child – has the same chances for a good education that we want for our own children.

And yet, despite this consensus, we continually fail to deliver. A few years ago, I visited a high school outside Chicago. The number one concern I heard from those students was that the school district couldn’t afford to keep teachers for a full day, so school let out at 1:30 every afternoon. That cut out critical classes like science and labs. Imagine that – these kids wanted more school. They knew they were being short-changed. Unfortunately, stories like this can be found across America. Only 20 percent of students are prepared to take college classes in English, math and science. We have one of the highest dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and barely one tenth of our low-income students will graduate from college. That will cripple their ability to keep pace in this global economy, and compromise our ability to compete as a nation.

Senator McCain doesn’t talk about education much. But I don’t accept the status quo.

Our comment: The Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind legislation started an era of accountability.  NCLB was not the status quo.  McCain could make a contributions by not turning back the clock.

It is morally unacceptable and economically untenable. It’s time to make an historic commitment to education–…

Our comment: continuing the previous Administration’s commitment

… a real commitment that will require new resources and new reforms.

We can start by investing $10 billion to guarantee access to quality, affordable, early childhood education for every child in America. Every dollar that we spend on these programs puts our children on a path to success, while saving us as much as $10 in reduced health care costs, crime, and welfare later on.

We can fix the failures of No Child Left Behind,…

Our comment: use of “failures” creating unproductive partisanship

… while focusing on accountability. That means providing the funding that was promised. More importantly, it means reaching high standards, but not by relying on a single, high stakes standardized test that distorts how teachers teach.  Instead, we need to work with governors, educators and especially teachers to develop better assessment tools that effectively measure student achievement…

Our comment: blatantly pandering to the education establishment

…, and encourage the kinds of research, scientific investigation, and problem-solving that our children will need to compete.

And we need to recruit an army of new teachers.

Our comment: pandering to the education establishment

I’ll make this pledge as President – if you commit your life to teaching, America will pay for your college education. We’ll recruit teachers in math and science, and deploy them to under-staffed school districts in our inner cities and rural America.

Our comment: as our readers know there are several profound subsector developments on the way, and sending a few new graduates to poor areas improves an underperforming sector only modestly.

We’ll expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits.

Our comment: pandering to the education establishment.  Surveys show that the efficacy of Western teachers, unlike that of teachers in some other parts of the world, typically doesn’t improve much after the first 2-3 years.

And when our teachers succeed, I won’t just talk about how great they are – I’ll reward their greatness with better pay and more support.

Our: “I”? In the new education sector the subject allocation and pay of teachers is determined by how students allocate their education voucher dollars.

But research shows that resources alone won’t create the schools that we need to help our children succeed. We also need to encourage innovation – by adopting curricula and the school calendar to the needs of the 21st century; by updating the schools of education that produce most of our teachers; by welcoming charter schools within the public schools system, and streamlining the certification process for engineers or businesspeople who want to shift careers and teach.

Our comment: All very good; the one key development not mentioned at all is that students from 2007 on  choose among teachers all over the world, and that the introduction of voucher systems automatically follow from this.

We must also challenge the system that prevents us from promoting and rewarding excellence in teaching. We cannot ask our teachers to perform the impossible – to teach poorly prepared children with inadequate resources, and then punish them when children perform poorly on a standardized test. But if we give teachers the resources they need; if we pay them more, and give them time for professional development; if they are given ownership over the design of better assessment tools and a creative curricula; if we shape reforms with teachers rather than imposing changes on teachers, then it is fair to expect better results. Where there are teachers who are still struggling and underperforming, we should provide them with individual help and support. And if they’re still underperforming after that, we should find a quick and fair way to put another teacher in that classroom. Our children deserve no less.

Our comment: if if if if if… As any diligent education sector observer knows massive gains can be achieved by applying commonplace management principles immediately.

Advertisements

2008/06/25 - Posted by | Policy

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: