Education is Getting an Overdue National Review

Over the past three months I’ve really noticed an increase in print media directed towards the needs of the US education system. The decline in prominence of the US over the last 18 months coupled with the financial crises has motivated people to look at root causes. And the root cause many are concluding is a lack in education prioritization.

Much of the wealth created over the last 100 years in the US has been attributed to the across the board schooling that took place between 1900 and 1960. This created better skilled workers, which improved productivity, which raised the buying power of the middle class. Over the last 50 years the advantage the US has had in terms of mass education has dwindled and is often surpassed. For instance, India gained independence in 1947 from England. One of their first prominent decisions was to make education a tenant of their new country. To do so they centralized the Sciences and Technologies in higher education curriculum and maintain the ability to extend mandates as needed. There are several occurrences throughout the last 60 years.

What is strange to me is how an educational program assembled in the late 1800s is still the one used today. This lack of adjustmemt assumes there is no cultural change, no technology change, and no competitors for attention. Each of these has eroded the effectiveness of a K-12 schooling. A good example of the cultural change is described in The Big Fix by David Leohardt. He wrote that a scholarship program in West Virginia called Promise has observed other state scholarship system’s and found a weakness – there isn’t an urgency to graduate in four years. Allowing students to take five years or longer doesn’t produce results for the cost. Many students just aren’t pushed to graduate. At one point in time this would be embarrassing, but now it is culturally accepted.

The economic stimulus is addressing many of the current shortfalls in education funding, but it isn’t launching new models. But I’m hopeful, primarily because it really all comes down to the teachers. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a couple of months ago about how a good teacher in a poor school will teach more to their students than a bad teacher in a good school will. His narrative depicts several examples. But one area he mentions as a possibility for teachers is also a possibility for all jobs – apprenticeships. It makes perfect sense because it is a flexibe learning program. It changes with culture, technology, and motivations.

I’m hoping for some new ideas, especially in the private sector, to come to the fore but in the meantime, here are a few more writings I enjoyed on the topic:

Our Greatest National Shame by Nicholas Kristof

The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin (Author), Lawrence F. Katz (Author)

Education PostsWorking Thoughts by Ben Leeson

Working Thoughts – 02/15/08 – Teachers Who Have Creative Freedom to Teach


Posted in:

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: