In WWII while a lot of people were involved in our efforts to fight back the Japanese and German advances, all sucking up a large portion of our collective national effort, a small hand of men and women close to President Franklin D. Roosevelt were tasked with the problem of deciding where to take the world when the enemy was defeated and we won.
They are the ones who outlined the plans, wrote the circulated bills, became the think tanks of their time, to outline a plan that would tend to stop all world wars and promote peace and prosperity… They succeeded rather well.
This was exactly what was not done in Iraq. Once we won, the administration in charge at that time suddenly found itself in control of a captured country, and only then asked what will we do next. Simply comparing the two end results should make the most ardent spur-of-the moment actor, see the true benefit of pre-planning.
So with the war on education now at least beginning to feel less and less intensity from each new attack on public schools, now while it is time long before reaching the end result, we should have a few bright people map out the future of American education so that after the “corporates” get thrown out, we are not left with a desolate and damaged vacuum with no existing plan to fill it…
Our future goal should be to effectively use new technology so we achieve solid results.
The first decision: is what do we need children to know? Common Core for all its good press and bad results touches only the tiniest fraction of learning.. micro slices of both ELA and Math.
Reading is separate from ELA. Because unlike ELA, reading is important. Reading is the key to opening doors. In America every educated American needs to be able to read English.. Today we don’t need to learn big words or sentence structure. We need to understand ideas and know how to express them. There is no one “right” way to construct a sentence anymore but through trial and error students can find out what is effective.
Reading is how ideas from one person are passed to another; what good is Google if you can’t read? Since little or none of our progeny have trouble understanding Google, we must have be doing something right.
Math is necessary. it organizes our mind, our lives and society at large. But how much math do we instill? Obviously the four sectors and fractions, integers, and use of formulas… Graphing would be helpful as well.
But todays math skills when used in the real world for everyday activities, usually revolve around money, something rather important and everyone should be aware enough to know whether or not they are ripped off or getting a bargain.
Writing is important as well. One needs to communicate to those they cannot see. So how to express ones thoughts on a page is important to teach.
But missing from today’s Smarter Balanced Assessments intensely focused curriculum, is our teaching of Social Studies. This is our world in regards to people. A very important part of our species’ makeup, how human interaction across the past created the world of today, needs to be known at least by every American citizen. Unfortunately we have here in America, elements of society that are embarrassed by certain elements of their own history. Religions don’t want the questionable aspects of their religion exposed. Political parties don’t want the truth of their mistakes and duplicity to dim the bright eyes of their newest followers. And as a result, our convoluted social studies quickly lose children’s attention because all they are allowed to see of it, really makes no sense…
Also missing is any emphasis of hands-on science topics. These represent teaching our children about all the rest of the world which is non-human. It too is a political minefield because everyone wants only their version of science to be taught, so their own other teachings do not get challenged by young inquiring minds.
Bottom line is that both politics and money have failed our students across the board.
The first item of business should be focused on keeping those influences away from our children. Not teaching evolution is just as harmful as not teaching about Muslims. In fact, one of the biggest problems today is that we do have fierce battles over teaching these two topics because no one knows anything about those two topics, especially those arguing on our televisions. If they knew more about both, there would be agreements, not arguments; Compromise would make perfect sense. But instead we get people who are told incorrectly how dangerous these two teachings are, and out of self preservation, create fierce arguments concocted out of nothing.
Second is to note that teaching is a very human endeavor. Where the Smarter Balanced Assessment jumped the rails is that it tried to go around this element. In fact, do away with it. But that is not how we are wired. A teacher who knows their student is the best assessment process to determine whether their student knows the material, not an algorithm.
In fact, as new educational models get tested that remove teachers and replace them with online programs, it becomes clearly obvious that just as adults don’t do what they aren’t nagged about, neither do kids. Often overlooked in the political efforts to fund free community colleges is the fact that only 20% of them graduate. Sending more there for free would not suddenly benefit society.. The reason for that low rate of success is because a community college is not a community in itself. A person exits their normal life, goes to class and reinserts themselves back into normalcy upon coming home.. But community colleges which actively foster a community with meet-and-greets, arts, plays, musical events, social interactions, all tend to have high graduation rates. People are social animals.
Furthermore educational programs taught by computer, also have low completion rates. Far lower than classes having forced human interaction. To combat this successfully, what some community schools have done is flipped the classes to where the instruction is now given online at home, and class now involves a real professor who is there to help and show students how to do their homework. Proving that all-cyber schools are dreams because humans have not adapted to learning that way yet. Humans need human interaction to learn.
So in our upcoming new world, it is pretty obvious what we need. A stripped down curriculum upon which every person knows.. This is not a government curriculum. It’s what we have already, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication. reading and writing, social studies and science
And we need teachers to teach. Make classes interesting so students have no choice but to become interested. No one learns what what they don’t want to learn.
We should probably take this a step further in detail. We need an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all schools below 50% poverty from k-5… and in 9th grade.
Each teacher is responsible to make sure their 11 students do the best they can.. Those with top students have the same agenda as those with special-ed students but you won’t get identical results on their tests. You could probably develop a test which could, but we know even that is waste of time. We now know anything that takes time away from teaching is “false education reform” because all education comes from human to human contact and anything that interrupts that, sets education behind.
We also know that money is not the magic bullet. We know that in dirt floor huts, with eighty year old primers, that education occurs in Africa that rivals that in Wilmington Charter School. it is done because with an 11:1 teacher student ratio the will to want to learn is fanned, not extinguished.
That is not to say that we can teach without money. We have more than 11 students in each village and we need to pay more than a couple of farm animals to keep a teacher on the payroll. But the only thing worth its salt that teaches, is human beings trained to teach.. That needs to be the sole dispensary of all extra cash if we ever hope to achieve the educational greatness those involved in the future will demand.
The reason we don’t have it; is because the large investors cannot make huge profits off of teachers simply doing their job.
So an 11:1 student teacher ratio needs to be engraved in stone.
Everything else flows from that one ideal..
- We will need more money so we should tax the 1% to pay for that.
- We can’t have charters taking funds and wasting it on piss-poor results, so we need to eliminate the current plan that funds charters by leeching money out of their public feeder schools; period.
- We can’t have a shortage of teachers and still do this so we have to immediately stop holding teachers accountable to test scores which are really just poverty indicators, not learning gauges.
And we need to realize every child is different. So the prime movers of education need to dismiss the idea of having everyone learn one set of faked cardboard standards making them all carbon copies of the same, and instead focus on as many possible avenues which we can steer children down as it becomes apparent they possibly could have talents in those areas… Cutting art classes to boost English learning just gives the Chinese all future jobs requiring artistic talent; which is a lot. Cutting music classes to boost Math learning just gives the Europeans all future jobs requiring some musical knowledge; which is a lot.
Bottom line is that corporate power took advantage of the Republican Depression to attack public education… Just like the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Rim. As people woke up they fought back and now we are reaching equilibrium. We need to make sure as we retake lost ground that we put in place this 11:1 student teacher ratio and wire our entire system to fund its continuity.