All of us, regardless of how we have chosen to educate our children, should and must be attuned to and invested (and we're all invested, if even just in the financial sense) in how the majority in this country are educated. The effectiveness of the methods by which the majority receive their K-12 education ends up impacting every aspect of our national and international life. The signs, in case you haven't noticed, are not good:
Education Lessons We Left BehindBy George Will
If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. -- "A Nation At Risk" (1983)
WASHINGTON -- Let us limp down memory lane to mark this week's melancholy 25th anniversary of a national commission's report that galvanized Americans to vow to do better. Today the nation still ignores what had been learned years before 1983.
Back in the days when there were Democrats who looked at facts and interpreted them with vision and wisdom, one of my heroes, at least on the education front, was the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It's too bad more people weren't paying attention to his astute observations. Instead, his colleagues pandered to the growing power of the teachers unions and ignored reality:
Read the whole article here.
In 1964, SAT scores among college-bound students peaked. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) codified confidence in the correlation between financial inputs and cognitive outputs in education. But in 1966, the Coleman report, the result of the largest social science project in history, reached a conclusion so "seismic" -- Moynihan's description -- that the government almost refused to publish it.
Released quietly on the Fourth of July weekend, the report concluded that the qualities of the families from which children come to school matter much more than money as predictors of schools' effectiveness. The crucial common denominator of problems of race and class -- fractured families -- would have to be faced.
But it wasn't. Instead, shopworn panaceas -- larger teacher salaries, smaller class sizes -- were pursued as colleges were reduced to offering remediation to freshmen.
In 1976, for the first time in its 119-year history, the National Education Association, the teachers union, endorsed a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, who repaid it by creating the Education Department, a monument to the premise that money and government programs matter most. At the NEA's behest, the nation has expanded the number of teachers much faster than the number of students has grown. Hiring more, rather than more competent, teachers meant more dues-paying union members. For decades, schools have been treated as laboratories for various equity experiments. Fads incubated in education schools gave us "open" classrooms, teachers as "facilitators of learning" rather than transmitters of knowledge, abandonment of a literary canon in the name of "multiculturalism," and so on, producing a majority of high school juniors who could not locate the Civil War in the proper half-century.