2007-03-10

US School Funding Increases, Results Fall

The US spends enough on govt school education; more than enough: about $10k/year for each kid. But test scores continue to fall. This indicates to me that more money is not the answer, though if the problem does get resolved I believe that teachers would deserve raises and the US could afford to provide those raises.

In the meantime, I see two choices. One, the people who run schools can change. I believe that will never happen, except in the private schools. Two, parents can take matters into their own hands and find a way to steer their kids through a meaningful education despite all the wasted time at their govt schools.k A helpful option in that effort is school vouchers, which can enable more parents to support the only schools capable of change.

The needed changes are obvious to me, and stated here many times:
1. Employ as teachers only those with real academic degrees; no teachers with "education" degrees.
2. No mandatory attendance; expel students who fail to participate in academic matters. This doesn't effect private schools, who have no obligation to all children in their areas. If govt schools had a capacity to change, they could create alternative institutions for refractory students. However, since govt schools will never change, I suppose there's no point in bothering to figure out how govt schools could stop mandating attendance.
3. No "electives"; only core academic classes.
4. Mandatory musical instruments and second language, starting in kindergarten.
5. Elimination of interscholastic sports, and perhaps even "gym"; leave this to govt or private sports leagues.

3 comments:

Turtle Parade said...

Since this is my first visit to your blog, I have no idea what you do, etc. I can't say I disagree with everything you say here, but I've got some stuff to say:

1. I agree
2. I agree, kids or truly their parents need to be responsible.
3. I highly disagree. We are not robots. We do not want our children to be robots. Kids need to be exposed to various arts, cultures, etc. "Life" is not just about math and science. Maybe we don't have to expect all kids to take electives, maybe they could be just that - take 'em or leave 'em, but I do think they need to be offered.
4. I think this contradicts your previous though of no electives. Why is a musical instrument better than a paintbrush? Or a wooden spoon? Or a hammer? (I do, though, agree with starting a 2nd language very early)
5. With our country getting fatter by the minute, you want to discourage physical activity? With so much stuff going on outside of school that is incredibly negative - drugs, gangs, violence, "nothing-to-do-ness", you want to take away a structured activity that encourages teamwork and leadership, and teaches success and failure? I just don't get this one.

Nice commentary - I enjoyed!
I'll be back - even if uninvited!
:)

Turtle Parade said...

Oh, by the way, I am not a teacher, or an artist, or a musician, or an athlete...

Paul Hue said...

Turtle: Do you believe that the purpose of schools should be to perform every task worthwhile of a young person's time? I believe that this is the position of the people who run schools, and one of the main reasons that US schools have failed: "Everything worth doing is worth doing in school." I believe that one essential reform for schools is to cut back drastically on the scope of their purpose.

By attempting to make our kids both physically fit and intellectually capable, our schools have failed at both.

We don't expect our little league teams to also teach our kids how to interpret "Catcher in the Rye"; why do we expect our "schools" to teach our kids kickball? You charge parents with taking more responsibility; why not include in that responsibility enrolling their kids in rec center sports programs?

And by the way, my proposed no-frills curricula would not focus on "math and science". It would give equal weight to history, writing, and reading.

If we can't agree that musical instrument instruction provides an essential basic artistic foundation, and instead have to start debating pottery, painting (found art? mixed media?), woodworking, etc., I fear we then start having schools attempting too much, and consequently accomplishing nothing well. Again I would charge schools with succeeding in some limited set of basics, and charge parents with taking the responsibility of building upon that basic curricula.